The closure of the local IGA has left many residents of Okanagan Falls without easy access for their groceries. (File photo)

Grocery Assistant service serving OK Falls seniors after grocery store closure

More than a dozen residents rely on the service after the IGA closed in September

By Brennan Phillips

Western News Staff

There are some things that people can take for granted, one of those, as a number of residents of Okanagan Falls have found, is having a grocery store in the community.

In September, the IGA closed down, forcing residents to go to Penticton or Oliver if they wanted to pick up their groceries.

Not every resident is able to make that trip, which is where Penny Elliott has stepped in to provide some assistance.

“I work at the pharmacy here in OK Falls, and I heard so many people asking me, ‘What am I going to do?’” said Elliott. “There was a need that has to be met here.”

READ MORE: Okanagan Falls grocer to shut its doors

A few weeks ahead of the store’s official closure, she started up Ol’ Mother Hubbard’s Grocery Assistant, which helps mobility-limited residents to order groceries and delivers them to their homes.

“There’s a lot of elderly folk in our community. A lot of them can’t drive, a lot of them can’t walk, they don’t have the mobility to get out of their house and down to the store. They don’t have family in the area.

With her clients, Elliott works to set them up with accounts with the Wholesale Club. With the accounts, they can make their own orders online, and Elliott just picks them up. For others, she also comes to their homes and helps with their ordering.

She hopes that the more the story spreads, the more residents know the service is available and share it with residents who might not otherwise hear about it.

“The people who really need this service, they don’t have the internet, don’t have computers,” said Elliott. “So we’re trying to get out to them. It’s those people who are stuck in their homes who need this service this most, who are the hardest to target.”

READ MORE: Okanagan seniors misusing meds needs to be addressed: seniors care expert

The goal of the service isn’t to make a profit. Elliott does charge a fee to cover her time and expenses, but she points out that the savings she aims for makes up for it.

“With the Wholesale Club they earn points and collecting deals,” Elliott said. “For what they were paying when we did have our grocery store, my service is pretty well covered, because everything was pretty expensive at the IGA. I’m trying to set it up the best possible way for them to save money.”

Some of the local corner stores have begun stocking some goods, including the Pharmasave, but for the moment the food available is mostly processed and canned. Unless another grocery store opens, Elliott believes that she may be the only service of her kind for many residents for the foreseeable future.

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