Non-profit grocery offering healthy choices grows

A grocery discount program targeting people who can't otherwise afford healthy food is expanding in the Twin Cities metro area.

Fare for All Express offers packages of lean meat and fresh produce at prices at least 30 percent below those at traditional grocery stores. It keeps prices low by purchasing in bulk from wholesalers, and by using donated space and volunteers.

The nonprofit program has grown dramatically in recent years, from nine locations in 2007 to 23 this year, including a recent expansion to Burnsville and Anoka, and says it now serves more than 37,000 households each year.

Director Sophia Lenarz-Coy says many people still need the discounts, despite signs the economy is improving.

"It takes a long time to recover. If you're going to go a couple of years without having a good income, and then you get a job, think of all the things you need to catch up on. So there's still a real sense that people are out looking to make a really limited amount of dollars go farther," she said.

"Especially when you're really watching your food budget, the foods that you buy tend to be less healthy. You know, a lot of pasta, a lot of starches, a lot of the cheaper items. So we really want the fresh fruits and veggies, and the good quality lean meats to be affordable for everyone," Lenarz-Coy said.