Program cuts food costs

November 28, 2001

Program cuts food costs


With the economy slowing and more people out of work, people can turn to a Tri-State area organization whose mission is to help people stretch their food budgets.

Every month, SHARE (Self-Help & Resource Exchange) allows people to buy more than $30 worth of food for just $15.

The only requirement is two hours of community service.

"The idea is to get people helping one another in the community," said Alice Bower, who coordinates a SHARE program in Waynesboro.

Bower first learned about the program about three years ago from her aunt, Justina Southerly of Waynesboro.

Southerly, who is retired and living on a fixed income, was telling Bower how disappointed she was that she couldn't find anyone to help start the program in the area. At the time, the closest site was in State Line, Pa.


"I thought, this just isn't right," said Bower, a native of Waynesboro who now lives in Gettysburg, Pa.

Since she and her husband, Ron Bower, had both recently retired from teaching high school, they decided to take on the project with the help of other volunteers from the Rouzerville and Waynesboro Churches of the Brethren.

SHARE is open to anyone, regardless of income, as long as they are willing to volunteer in the community. The work doesn't have to be with a recognized charity. It can be something as simple as doing someone's grocery shopping for them.

"It's really more than just the food. This is to make you think of helping others," said Phyllis Hill, a coordinator for a program at Mt. Lena United Methodist Church in Boonsboro.

Bower, 53, said she liked the fact that it's not a handout.

The program receives no government funding. The discount is created by the collective buying power of all the SHARE participants and the fact that almost all the warehouse space and labor is donated.

With recent layoffs at major employers such as Grove Worldwide in Shady Grove, Pa., Bower said the program is ready to step in and help.

"The community, especially this year, has been in need of something like this," she said.

Bower said her involvement in the program has been rewarding.

"It's a real tight group. I've really formed some great friendships as a result," she said.

One Saturday a month, volunteers drive a truck or a van to the old Antietam Paper Co. warehouse in Hagerstown to pick up the paid orders they have received throughout the previous month.

There are always four kinds of meats, plus potatoes, onions and other fruits and vegetables. During the holidays, people can also buy an extra package that contains an 8- to 10-pound turkey, gravy mix, 2 pounds of sweet potatoes, stuffing mix, green beans, cranberry sauce, biscuit mix and apple pie.

The packages are distributed at different SHARE locations in the Tri-State area. In Waynesboro, it's the Church of the Brethren at 117 S. Church St.

"It's kind of neat to meet the different people. Everybody appreciates it," she said.

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