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Jen Peterson Viewpoint: Discount food program looking to expand

Fare For All Express has been in our community for just over a year now. While this program has been well utilized by many of our friends and families, there is still a lot of opportunity for others to participate that may not know how the program works or that anyone can participate.

Fare For All Express is a service of the Emergency Food Shelf Network, a nonprofit organization. Through this program individuals can save on high quality food, while supporting others in the community. The more people that purchase food through Fare For All Express, the more buying power the Emergency Food Shelf Network has to help supply food to local food shelves. Fare For All purchases food in bulk at deep discounts and then passes the savings on to Fare For All shoppers. The groceries available through Fare For All include a variety of frozen meats, including some name brand items and a variety of fresh produce.

I know that Fare For All assists a lot of people, and that a lot of people help Fare For All. However, I think that there are more people who could benefit from the ability to purchase low cost groceries. This is why we, I and the other Fare For All volunteers, are starting a plan for a homebound delivery service and a gifting program. The homebound delivery service would help those individuals who cannot make it in once a month to purchase and pick up their food at the Fare For All events.

The gifting program would assist those who could use a gift of a food package without having to pay for it. This idea was born from an event that occurred last November. We had an anonymous shopper come to Fare For All and tell us that she wanted to buy a package for someone else. We thanked her for her kindness and sent her to the cashier to complete her purchase. Within a few minutes, the cashier came to me very excited. He let us know that she had paid for 10 Holiday Packages at $30 each and left with none of them. She told the cashier that she had just received her holiday bonus and that she wanted to do something nice for someone else. We were all very touched by her gift and easily found deserving families who were also touched by receiving a free package. Both the homebound delivery service and the gifting program would be great ways for businesses, civic or church groups, or families to team up and help out others right here in our south Washington County community.

Fare For All accepts cash, debit, credit and EBT. It's open and available to the public. There are no ID checks, no address or income verification required. All of the meat items are frozen and the produce is fresh. The food comes in pre-assembled packages and is purchased already put together. Packages range from $10 to $30, and the shoppers are also allowed to select a free bread item as they exit the shopping event. There are monthly specials or a la carte items, and special deals as well. There is an email notification sent out monthly, and Fare For All can be "liked" on Facebook to keep up to date on the bargains. Fare For All also has a website which can be viewed at

If you have questions or are interested in purchasing food through Fare For All, or would like to volunteer there or with the new homebound delivery or contribute to the gifting program, please contact me at 651-271-2287 or by email at You may also learn more at any of our monthly events. Our next event is from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, July 18, at All Saints Lutheran Church, 8100 Belden Blvd. Thanks to All Saints Church for their support and the many volunteers who make this work.

Jen Peterson is a Cottage Grove City Council member.