SHARE esnures affordable groceries are available

Karen Gibson wants Craig residents to have the option of affordable food.

In 1998, she started SHARE Craig, a local branch of a worldwide program dedicated to delivering discounted meats and produce to anyone who wants to save some money on their monthly grocery bill. She had seen the organization in action in other communities and wanted to bring it here.

"The main goal is to help people on fixed incomes, but it's for anybody who eats," Gibson said.

For $21, anyone can sign up to receive a regular package of food that includes five types of meat and 10 fruits and vegetables. Gibson estimated this package could serve a family of four for 10 days.

SHARE also has junior packages and special deals for holidays. For instance, the organization is offering a steak and shrimp package for Valentine's Day.

"This is for anyone who wants a good buy," Gibson said.

The monthly SHARE newspaper advertises savings up to 50 percent.

"The more you buy, the more you save, the more we can continue at that price," Gibson said. "The price has gone up some but it's still a better deal than grocery stores."

The food is distributed from Grand Junction, and a volunteer with SHARE drives the load home for customer pick up.

"That's why we need this truck," Gibson said of the 1992 Isuzu the organization recently purchased from Craig Fire and Safety.

Black Mountain Glass is donating a new windshield and Chapman Automotive Service Center is servicing the vehicle for free with parts at cost.

The truck cost $6,000, and Friendship United Methodist Church, under which SHARE Craig operates, donated a third of the price. Gibson's husband, Phillip, is the pastor there.

Volunteers raised all but $1,590 for the truck, which Gibson said is borrowed money that needs to be repaid.

The state program, SHARE Colorado, operates under Catholic Charities, but Gibson said the organization does not push the religiousness of the group.

The Craig program operates under Friendship Methodist because Gibson needed a sponsoring group to get SHARE started here.

"Of course being connected to a church, I would want it to be connected to a church," she said.

She does no ministering because she said that's not what the program is about. "We'd be limiting ourselves," she said. "We would not be doing what we want to be doing, and that's (helping) everyone who wants to get food at a lower price."

Serving 65 local residents, Gibson said she hopes SHARE helps those who truly need help as well as those who just want to save some money.

"I look at it as a bridge between the food bank and becoming self-sustaining," she said.

Food is typically distributed on the fourth Saturday of the month, with sign-ups two-and-a-half weeks prior. The dates and times are published regularly in the Craig Daily Press.

For more information on the local program, call 824-7939, or visit www.sharecolorado.com to learn about the statewide effort.

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