By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
A food co-op initiated in 2006 has grown from two sites and 120 families to 16 states and “countless” families, including many from Imperial.
Bountiful Baskets is a non-profit co-op. It offers a conventional produce basket every other week which is generally one-half fruit and one-half vegetable, for a contribution of $15.
Sally Stevens and Tanya Jolly started the co-op after running their own small food co-ops, catering to families who wanted to save money on healthy food.
Bountiful Baskets added Imperial as a drop site last April, after a number of customers wanted to save a trip to Holyoke, Colo., for their baskets.
“Several of us had been going to Holyoke, and we were able to get them to drop in Imperial, so we didn’t have to travel to drop off our baskets and get them back,” said Loretta Stumpff.
Stumpff said as many as 96 families can participate in the Imperial site, and that many did so from April to the end of August.
Since that time, about 50-60 families have been involved, but Stumpff said that will probably pick up again now that individual vegetable gardens have been harvested.
Stumpff said produce is grown all over the country and is “really fresh. Sometimes, the fruit lasts two weeks” before it ripens, she noted.
All labor is done by volunteers, which includes filling the baskets. Each basket contains six fruits and six vegetables, and everyone gets the same.
Those contracting for the baskets also have the option of adding extras such as granola, breads, cases of fruit or vegetables, cookies, pizza crust and more, depending upon availability.
Stumpff said sometimes she has received kale, eggplant, different kinds of cucumbers and red corn, “which my family absolutely loves.”
“It’s made me cook totally differently because I’d get something I hadn’t used before,” she said.
“Now I go to the store and purchase those things because I know my family will eat them.”
Stumpff said that Bountiful Baskets may be seen as in conflict with local grocery stores, “But now I buy a lot of things I wouldn’t have bought.” For instance, if she has extra fruit, she buys items at the grocery stores to pair with it.
There are no long-term commitments to participate. Interested persons may go to www.bountifulbaskets.org, log on between 11 a.m. Monday and 11 a.m. Tuesday to participate before the Saturday drop off, and pick up the basket contents at 5 p.m. on Saturday at the Imperial City Gym.
The next several pick up dates are Nov. 22, Dec. 6, Jan. 3, 17 and 31 and Feb. 14, 2015.
Stumpff also said updates, pick-up reminders and new item notices are now available on Facebook at imperialhealthybaskets.