MORRIS – Food flew off the shelves and into carts Tuesday morning at the Morris Aldi as though people were preparing for a zombie apocalypse.
The world was not being attacked though. The reality was a Food Check Out Shopping Cart Challenge was being held, hosted by the Grundy County Farm Bureau as part of its efforts to educate people that you can eat healthy on a limited budget.
“It’s a spin on food checkout week,” said Tasha Bunting, manager of the Grundy County Farm Bureau.
The challenge had two teams of two, Sara Mitchell and Nicole Bromberek representing Grundy County Farm Bureau Young Leaders, and Fire Chief Tracey Steffes and Assistant Chief Bob Wills representing the Morris Fire Protection and Ambulance District.
The goal is for the teams to push shopping carts around the store and fill them, while staying together for two minutes. The winner is the person with the lowest cost per item.
The teams were encouraged to scope out the store in advance and determine a strategy, looking at prices of items and where they were located in the store.
“We don’t have a strategy,” Wills said. “And we’re old.”
The Young Leaders team came much more prepared for battle.
“Our goal is to stay at or under $1 per item,” Mitchell said. “We’ve been stretching so we can trip them.”
As the two teams strategically placed extra carts within the store, they had a chance to see where items were located just prior to the event.
A little cheating was involved out of the gate as the race started. Steffes was spotted blocking the Young Leaders team from getting a quick start.
As they raced down the aisles, the Young Leaders preparations paid off as they ran straight to key items so they could get the most bang for their buck.
“Last time I was in a contest, we won,” Steffes said as he struggled to catch his breath. “I needed an angiogram after that contest.”
While the two teams caught their breath, cashiers rang up the items in the carts.
The items in each cart are paid for by the Grundy County Farm Bureau and donated to We Care of Grundy County once the contest is over.
“We have been a part of the Morris community for several years,” Heather Moore, vice president for Aldi Dwight Division. “This event is a fun thing and a way to give back to We Care.”
In addition to the food items, We Care was presented with $200 to buy items the shoppers didn’t get.
“This is a great way to bring attention to the Farm Bureau for all the great work they do in the area of nutrition,” said Denise Gaska, executive director of We Care. “Nutrition is very important to We Care. It’s nice to show why shopping decisions can make your dollars stretch further.”
The fire department’s shopping cart totaled $275.19 with a $2.62 per unit cost and was filled with items Gaska said aren’t typical at the food pantry, like cans of coffee and jars of Miracle Whip.
“We have honey in our cart, it never goes bad, I looked it up on Yahoo,” Steffes said. “We should win for getting the most preserved item on the list.”
The Young Leaders’ shopping cart totaled $208.14 with a 96 cent per item cost, making them the winners of the contest.
“We may have lost the battle, but we won the war,” Steffes said. “We printed up the rules we just didn’t follow them.”
Wills said their goal was to get food needed for We Care, whether or not their team won, they wanted We Care to win.