By Rick Garrick
Anishnawbe Mushkiki’s Renco Grocery Store Tour provided healthy food tips and a bag of free groceries to about 12 adult participants and some of their children in Thunder Bay.
“It was good — I asked some questions about buying different meats and oils and what is better,” says Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek’s Loretta Thompson, a mother of four who lives on a fixed income in Thunder Bay. “I learned some things about what is better to buy than I normally buy.”
Thompson says the Renco tour, held Jan. 28 at the Court St. Renco Foods store, also provided her with ideas on how to cook healthier meals for her family.
“It helps us to pick what is better, more healthier,” Thompson says. “I’m always looking for recipes trying to find more variety for (my family). Sometimes it is hard, especially when you are on a fixed income.”
Thompson and the other Renco tour participants received the ingredients to make broccoli soup and broccoli casserole.
“With the ingredients they gave us, you can make two recipes out of that,” Thompson says. “That’s what we are going to have for dinner tonight, because I wasn’t sure what I was having.”
Anishnawbe Mushkiki executive director Michael Hardy says the Renco tour was provided through a “great partnership with Renco Foods.”
“It allows us and our staff to assist in regards to healthy food, budgeting for foods,” Hardy says. “It’s really brought the families together — they actually shop and they cook and they look at nutrition and they look at expenses in regard to budgeting. To Anishnawbe Mushkiki, it really is a recipe for success.”
Two Anishnawbe Mushkiki staff members led the Renco tour, Margo Ayoub, diabetes prevention and Smoke-Free Ontario, and Emma Uessing, registered dietician.
“The idea is to bring a recipe on the tour and then we each grab the ingredients for the recipe,” Ayoub says. “Emma, our registered dietician, provides nutritional information. People have questions about whether canned is better than fresh, or how many grams of sugar you should look for, why is it important to get reduced salt options.”
Uessing shared some nutritional information about white and brown eggs with the participants during the Renco tour.
“There is no nutritional difference between either of the two eggs,” Uessing says. “There is just a difference on price.”
Uessing says the participants had varying levels of knowledge about the nutrition of different foods.
“Some people are regular clients of mine, so they may have received education already,” Uessing says. “Other people are more new to the program, so they are more starting from scratch. They’ve all got lots of great questions and there is lots of good teaching opportunities throughout the store.”
Uessing encourages people to take advantage of registered dieticians in their communities to learn more about healthy foods.
“We have lots of information to share and I think everyone could learn something about healthy eating,” Uessing says.
Anishnawbe Mushkiki holds the Renco tour every two months, with the next one scheduled for March.
“There is limited space, so register early,” Ayoub says.