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Food Coalition helps Brooks residents make healthy choices BY ROSE SANCHEZ —

The Food Coalition Society of Brooks is working to help Brooks and area residents make healthy choices when it comes to food. It has been around since October of 2005 when

officials with the food bank and social services saw a way they could reach out to their clients to help improve their eating habits.

It has now expanded to

Izzo, has more than 100 registered members. Every month members pay for a food box which has six fruits and six vegetables. The goal is to have members try

reach out to all Brooks and area residents interested in learning more about healthy eating. “Everyone deserves healthy food, no matter their social status,” says Julie Musgrove, co- ordinator of the Cook Up Time program and a society board member. The vision of the non-profit society is “to ensure

“Everyone deserves healthy food, no matter their social status.”

Julie Musgrove,co-ordinator of the Cook Up Time program

various fruits and vegetables they may not have had before, but at the same time, the bulk purchasing means the important foods can be enjoyed once a month at a more reasonable price. “By eating fresh fruits and vegetables,

it’s improving on your health in general,” says Musgrove. Another popular program is Cook Up

Time. Musgrove has had from three to seven kitchens at any given time. Participants are learning to cook healthy meals or sometimes learning about topics such as celiac disease or diabetes. A group of participants from Brooks

all families in Brooks and area have healthy food.” Its mission is “to foster a better understanding of

food insecurity. Through the development, support and evaluation of initiatives, we will strive to fight food insecurity and achieve food security in our community.” Various programs are offered to this end including

Fresh Food Club, Cook Up Time kitchen club, cooking classes and community dinners. The Fresh Food Club, co-ordinated by Marian

and one from Tilley meets monthly to cook in bulk, creating dishes that can be frozen and enjoyed later. Sometimes there are special programs created by

Here volunteers pack up the fruits and vegetables for the Fresh Food Club boxes.

request. In Brooks, there have been groups of newcomers who want to learn more about Canadian cooking and improve their English vocabulary at the same time. The Food Coalition will facilitate a cooking time to accomplish both goals. All of these programs are done thanks to the help of volunteers. Musgrove has a degree in human ecology with a focus on family studies, including nutrition classes. There are also kitchen leaders who assist and are trained in basic food safety courses. The board of directors is also made up of volunteers. Six people currently sit on the board, says Musgrove, and they come from various backgrounds including health and education. All of the programs are run out of schools and churches — wherever

there is space. Society members have applied for grant funding for

a new wellness project. Officials met with the various communities including Brooks, Duchess, Tilley, Rosemary and the County and came up with a walking program.

School facilities in the communities will be available for those interested to meet and walk together. It is hoped pedometers will be available for people to try so they can see how much walking they are doing. At each session, the group members would also make a healthy food item. Society members are still waiting to hear if the grant will be approved. “The grant is to get people

Photo by Brooks & County Chronicle

Wendy Turnbull, author of Gems of Gluten-Free Baking, spoke to the Celiac Support Group.

moving and lessen the levels of chronic illness,” says Musgrove. “Our whole goal is to educate people,” she adds, about the purpose of the Food Coalition. “We want people to read labels and look at what they’re eating.”

 Member of the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination since 2007

 Safe Harbour participant since 2009

 Active in the provincial network of Welcoming and Inclusive Communities through the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association

C  B 201-1st Ave West (403) 362-3333

 Welcome to Brooks packages available for newcomers and new residents

 City website available in 52 languages at

There is a lot of choice when it comes to the boxes handed out to Fresh Food Club members.

Photos submitted



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