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Posted: Food Matters » House & Home » Do-It-Yourself » Activism » Financial Health | February 1st, 2005



By Marvel Selke

In an ever-expanding global market, it’s easy to forget that most of our needs can be met by using the resources we have access to in our own communities. As gasoline prices rise, which in turn tend to increase the price of every item transported, it’s to our advantage as well as the environment to buy locally.

If you happen to own your home and it happens to sit on some land, you could, in theory, be an almost self-sustaining unit. However, the majority of us do not live on or have access to land, so we purchase our goods from afar. My challenge to you is to find those resources in your neighborhood and surrounding communities that can meet your families needs while saving on transportation costs.

Who provides it here at home?
Find out who your local food providers are and how you can buy directly from them. Many cities and towns have farmer’s markets. Patronize yours. Look for food co-ops. If there aren’t any in your area, find other people with the same interest and start a co-op of your own. Of course you can always grow some of your food yourself. Many vegetables and herbs can be grown in containers all year round.

For household goods, try local craft fairs, flea markets, yard or garage sales. There are usually many thrift shops that could use your patronage. In addition to the larger, well-established charities, look for ones run by churches, hospices or other community organizations. If you need a personal donation, try your nearest online freecycle.com group. You’ll save money and still get the household items you want, in addition to recycling local goods.

Libraries not only have books to loan free of charge but videos and DVDs, too. Most now have computers with internet access. There are magazines to read, tax forms available, copy machine, children’s story hour and other activities. Call to find out exactly what services are available at your library and support their fund-raising efforts.

When shopping online don’t forget about WAHM (Work-At-Home Mom) businesses. There are many goods and services offered by WAHMs and WAHDs, not just cloth diapers (often the most well known). You can help a family sustain itself financially by seeking them out.

When it’s crunch time
For those families who are in desperate circumstances, don’t be shy about looking into what is available from your community. Churches are a great help to those in need even if you are not of their faith or member of their church. Food banks can offer you free food. Homeless shelters and domestic violence safe houses can provide temporary shelter and other crisis services.

The following programs are available in most states; look for phone numbers in the phone book. Check out the requirements by contacting the office near you:

Food Assistance and Nutrition Program Information
Food Recovery and Gleaning Hotline 1-800-453-2648
Society of St. Andrew 1-800-333-4597
WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Food supplements to pregnant women and families with small children
• Department of Human Services Food stamps, housing, cash assistance
• The Emergency Food Box Program Two to seven days of food for families in crisis
• The Salvation Army Help with utilities, free clothing
• Utility companies Contact gas, electric and telephone companies for help reducing your bill
• Housing authorities Locate affordable housing

© Marvel Selke

Marvel Selke is a natural-living mother and in-home caregiver. She is the webmom of www.TreeHuggerz.com, your green living on a budget web resource, message board and second-hand store.

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