BISMARCK, N.D. — For more than a year, Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op has been changing the lives of many people in the Bismarck community and across the state.
In May 2006, Tanya Jolly and Sally Stevens started Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op in Arizona to benefit families wanting to save money on healthy food. Since then, Bountiful Baskets has grown from two sites and an average of 120 families to hundreds of sites in 16 states and countless families getting involved.
Jamie Scott, volunteer site coordinator at Pride Inc., said Bountiful Baskets has allowed her family to eat healthier food than would generally be available.
"In North Dakota ... quality fresh produce isn't cheap or easy to come by. Bountiful Baskets has changed that," Scott said. "We have a son who is growing up eating fresh vegetables on a daily basis ... I'm teaching my child healthy eating habits and a better way of life."
The co-op is available to anyone regardless of income or family size and offers a $15 produce basket consisting generally of half fruit and half vegetables. Since April 2011, Bountiful Baskets has offered $25 organic baskets every week at nearly every site.
To get a basket, participants make contributions to the co-op.
Organizations like Pride Inc. understand the value in continuing co-ops of this kind and donate space in their buildings so Bountiful Baskets is able to distribute its produce. The entire co-op is run by volunteers, so the contributed money goes entirely toward produce.
Scott said Bountiful Baskets has expanded her passion for cooking healthy meals.
"(Cooking) changed from a hobby to a passion the day I realized that food didn't need to come from a box ... I could take an idea and make it into something my own — something so much more," Scott said. "My form of art comes out in the kitchen."
Bountiful Baskets has been entirely volunteer run since its beginning, keeping produce costs low.
"Every single person involved in this co-op is beyond dedicated, from the participants and volunteers ... all the way up to Tanya and Sally," Scott said. "Every person gives their all because they believe in what they're doing."
Bountiful Baskets distributes produce in Bismarck every Saturday at Pride Inc. and every other Saturday at the University of Mary Butler Center and in Mandan every other Saturday at the Mandan Rural Fire Department and the Mandan New Discovery Montessori. Specific times and dates may be found at http://bountifulbaskets.org.
"It is expanding (my) love and passion for food and healthy living," Scott said. "Sharing that ... makes the hard work worth it for me."
For more information about joining the Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op, contact Jamie Scott at 701-214-9107 or visit http://bountifulbaskets.org.