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Let me explain what SHARE is and how I became involved. SHARE (Self Help And Resource Exchange) is a program that has two goals. First, to improve communities through volunteerism. Second, by providing people with the opportunity to save money on nutritious food. In order to be part of SHARE you need to volunteer two hours monthly.

That entitles you to purchase a grocery package for $14 (plus a small transportation fee at some sites). These packages or SHAREs consist of 6-8 pounds of meat, fresh fruits and veggies, as well as staples such as rice or pasta, and are worth $25 - $30. Each month there is also a bonus pack that may lend itself to the season - baking supplies at Christmas time or great grill packs during the summer.

This is not a program that is set up for low-income families, although payment can be made with food stamps. This program is designed to help communities and then give those volunteers the benefit of having better buying power with their grocery dollars.

I became involved when I saw an ad in our newspaper offering the chance to save up to 50% on my grocery bill. Well, it didn't take me long to run to the phone and dial the number. But when I spoke with the woman I really thought SHARE was for low-income families and I probably shouldn't take advantage of that.

But she stressed the fact that anyone who eats is eligible. So I asked what kind of volunteer work they had in mind for people to do. I was told that anything that betters the community I live in was good. So I told her that I did things like develop our quarterly church newsletter and I also take my mom, who is legally blind, to the store every week. She thought that was great! Still skeptical I ordered one SHARE. I was very surprised when I got it home and added it up! The food was great and I know I saved 50% on it. Since then I've purchased two regular SHAREs and two of the bonus packs. And I continue to save every month. You can find out about your nearest SHARE office at the bottom of this http://www.sharefoodprogram.org/faq.htm">page.

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