What about food in Hazelwood?
What about food in Hazelwood? One very unique food opportunity in Hazelwood is the Fishes and Loaves Buying Club, which has now been in operation for over a year, having opened in early June, 2011. The mission of the Buying Club is to “bring fresh, healthy food into Hazelwood at reasonable prices”. So has the Club accomplished this goal in the past year?
The resounding answer is “Yes”! The Buying Club has delivered a total of $7,685.30 in groceries to club members in Hazelwood over the past year. Of this total, over 30% ($2,606.09) was in fresh fruits and vegetables, while another 30% ($2,466.13) was in fresh meats and seafood. This means that fresh foods not available in Hazelwood are the most popular items ordered through the Buying Club. This also means that over 60% of food delivered through the Buying Club is whole fruits, vegetables and meats, which are among the healthiest foods for human consumption.
Other items that Buying Club members have ordered are: $581.85 in fresh Mancini Breads; $622.16 in dairy items; $428.49 in frozen foods; $222.47 in pantry items, $200.00 in Fair Trade coffee and $47.61 in dry beans and rice. When enough orders come in for any one item, club members benefit because these items can then be ordered by the case at wholesale prices, which are lower than the usual retail prices offered.
So are Buying Club prices ‘reasonable’? Again, the answer is clearly “Yes”. Let’s look at the most popular items in each category, along with the average price charged over the past year. For fruits and vegetables, the Buying Club offered good quality fresh food at prices that were often half what they are at area grocery stores. The most popular items are:
- Oranges – 737 oranges at .45c each
- Bananas – 295 lbs of bananas at .70c/lb
- Lemons – 429 lemons at .34c each
- Green peppers – 126 lbs at $1.04/lb
- Apples – 106 lbs at .83c/lb
- Tomatoes – 101 lbs at $1.38/lb
Many of our members joined because we carry Wholey’s meats, including some of their famed selection of seafood. Instead of having to drive to the Strip and find parking, these meats are delivered to Hazelwood and picked up twice a month at Hazelwood Christian Church. In addition, our members can order local ground beef from Mish Meats in Gibsonia for very reasonable prices. The most popular meat and fish items are:
- Boneless chicken breast – 95 lbs at $2.28/lb
- Local farm-raised ground chuck – 47 lbs at $3.65/lb
- Wholey’s 81% lean ground beef – 42 lbs at $3.32/lb
- Stuffed flounder – 34 8-ounce pieces at $3.76/each
- Chicken drumsticks – 34 lbs at $2.27/lb
Rounding out the most popular items in other categories are:
- Lipari Wisconsin cheese (cheddar or Colby) – 99 8-oz packages at $2.53/each
- Hillendale butter (salted and no-salt) – 72 lbs at $3.70/lb
- Mancini Italian bread – 49 loaves at $2.28/each
- Mancini Paska Raisin bread – 47 loaves at $4.04/each
- Chicken pot pies – 41 at .83c each
- Mancini Multigrain bread – 32 loaves at $3.60/each
- Gwaltney frozen mild sausage – 32 lbs at $2.34/lb
Buying Club members who don’t have personal transportation appreciate free delivery into the neighborhood. Even those with vehicles, like Rick, comment that “you can’t beat prices like these” with delivery. Another member, Joanne, is well-known through her extended family for her famously delicious stuffed peppers and cabbage rolls. She is thrilled to get local ground chuck from Mish Meats, as well as good quality fresh green peppers and cabbages from Wholey’s to make her specialties. She reports that her family members “just love it (the beef)” and are checking each other freezers to see if there are any extra portions stashed away.
Fish lovers are thrilled with the stuffed flounder portions, which are single-size servings and easily prepared for a quick meal. Others appreciate the delicious whiting and tilapia fillets that come frozen for guaranteed freshness and easy storage. The popularity of bananas and oranges mean they can usually be ordered by the case, which guarantees low prices and sometimes extra items for sale at the time of delivery.
The Buying Club routinely orders extra items the first Saturday of each month so those want to check it out can do a ‘walk-through’ shopping trip during delivery at the Hazelwood Christian Church. On the third Saturday of each month, Buying Club members and Hazelwood Towers residents are treated to a complementary lunch of soups and or other seasonal foods chosen to use items that can be ordered through the Buying Club in healthy, inexpensive recipes.
The Fishes and Loaves Buying Club finishes up its first year of operation with a clear accomplishment of the goals set out in their mission statement. Fresh, healthy food at reasonable prices is available to all members on the first and third Saturdays of every month. Joining the club is easy, with a simple application form and a fully refundable $10.00 one-time membership fee. Order forms are available at St. Stephen’s Parish office, the Hazelwood Initiative office and the Hazelwood Towers the week before each delivery. The Buying Club is run entirely by member-volunteers, who handle the orders, collect the groceries, pack bags on distribution days and help with bookkeeping, distribution set-up, clean-up and publicity. There is a small sur-charge on all purchases to pay for utilities, office supplies, vehicle operation and other expenses, and the Buying Club anticipates being self-sustaining into the future. Membership in the Buying Club allows all residents of Hazelwood the opportunity to be part of a unique food experience, and to join with all Hazelwood residents to make fresh, healthy food available to everyone in the community.