A GROUP of health-conscious volunteers have come up with an economical way to get their five-a-day.

A food co-op has been launched by the Greater Pollok men's health group offering residents the chance to buy fresh produce close to home at affordable prices.

The initiative is just a small step towards helping the community become healthier and provides opportunities for those who may not be able to buy fruit and vegetables.

On opening day volunteers received visits from dozens of local customers, eager to get their hands on the fresh produce including apples, bananas, potatoes and cauliflower.

The six members of the group, along with staff from Greater Pollok Integration Network (GPIN), helped to set up the service in the Kennishead Community Hall after discussing it at a weekly meeting.

Londi Beketch, 53, a GPIN project worker from Greater Pollok, said: "It feels very good today to see it set up.

"We were discussing it during one of our meetings and came up with this idea.

"It will benefit the whole community, not just us.

"We did a survey and people responded saying the supermarket was too expensive or it was too heavy to carry all the shopping home.

"They wanted to have something locally and cheaper.

"It's great seeing it finally open."

The co-op will be open every Wednesday from 10am -2pm, but the long term plan would be to develop an ordering system for customers as demand for the service increases.

Not only does the non-profit service help locals, it has also helped to build volunteers' confidence and self belief.

Many of the men are unemployed or unable to work due to health or other problems, and joining the group has given many a sense of purpose and a support network to discuss their problems.

George Smith, 52, from Kennishead, is one of the volunteers working at the food co-op.

He said: "I joined the men's health group about two years ago now, and find it really helpful.

"We've got a weight problem in this country and I don't think people eat enough fruit and vegetables, so if we can sell that a bit cheaper it's going to help encourage people to eat more healthily.

"Fresh fruit and veg is dear; you can go into a discount supermarket and buy a packet of chocolate biscuits for 20p but an individual apple or banana is about 40p or more.

"It's trial and error and we'll know what sells better than other stuff, but it's going well so far."

hannah.rodger@ eveningtimes.co.uk