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Oasis another option for low-income shoppers

Oasis Outreach Society directors Kevin MacNeil and Doreen Chalmers are currently looking for volunteers to help at their new Langley location on the corner of 203 Street and Douglas Crescent.  - Miranda GATHERCOLE/Langley Times
Oasis Outreach Society directors Kevin MacNeil and Doreen Chalmers are currently looking for volunteers to help at their new Langley location on the corner of 203 Street and Douglas Crescent.
— image credit: Miranda GATHERCOLE/Langley Times

For many low-income residents in Langley, buying groceries is becoming a luxury they can no longer afford.

According to an RBC study published in May, food inflation rose by 2.4 per cent in Canada last year and is expected to rise again by three to four per cent this year, forcing many citizens to cut back on other expenses, turn to food banks or just go without.

But now Langley residents have another option, thanks to the Oasis Outreach Society.

The non-profit discount grocer, which offers grocery items for 30 to 50 per cent of their retail value, has opened a new location on the corner of 203 Street and Douglas Crescent.

Their purpose is to give low-income individuals and families a place where they can shop with dignity, said executive director Kevin MacNeil.

“The food bank is a great asset to the community and I support them 100 per cent, but sometimes they’re not enough,” MacNeil said.

“We want people to be able to feel better about themselves and get a choice.”

Membership to the Oasis Outreach Society is free, but it is limited to those with incomes of less than $20,000 per year. An extra $2,000 limit is added for each dependent.

Food and other items are donated by companies, community organizations, farmers and individuals.

Most are products that are rejected by retail outlets due to mislabeling, damaged packing or being too close to their expiry dates.

Rather than having them sent to the landfill, the food is instead distributed to those who need it most.

“Too much food is going into landfills when it could be going into people’s mouths,” MacNeil said.

Oasis Outreach Society opened their first location in Chilliwack in 2011 and now services more than 1,700 members there. With goals of eventually opening several locations in the Lower Mainland, the board of directors decided to come to Langley first because of the great need here.

“Our concept is just to try and help low-income families, seniors and the working poor,” MacNeil said. “Try to get more out of life, make them feel like they’re putting back into the community. There’s no discrimination.”

The success stories they’ve had are innumerable, he added.

One volunteer in Chilliwack came to the society unable to read or write, and she is now a manager, MacNeil said.

In another case, a senior on a fixed income came in with only $60 to buy groceries for an entire month. She was able to get everything she needed for only $40.

“It’s incredible the gratitude we get from people,” MacNeil said. “Not a day goes by that someone isn’t saying thank you.”

The Langley location is currently looking for volunteers to help out in the store. For more information on how to volunteer or how to become a member, contact Oasis Outreach Society at 604-533-1172 or visit them in person

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