How the Food Project Works
It’s a remarkably simple system, built around two main types of volunteers:
- Neighborhood Coordinators (NCs) agree to organize a small group of their neighbors to become Food Donors. Their job generally takes a few hours a month.
- Food Donors are neighbors who agree to give food every two months.
Neighborhood Coordinators (NCs)
- An NC’s donor group can be any number of people they like: 3…10…16…or any size.
- NCs decide for themselves what constitutes their “neighborhood.” It can be a few houses, a whole street, or several blocks. The most important thing is for them to feel comfortable with the area they pick. If they want, they can start small and expand their neighborhoods over time.
- Generally, NCs build their “neighborhoods” by knocking on doors, introducing themselves, and asking if people want to participate. It’s a great way to get to know neighbors. Many NCs start out by asking friends and acquaintances who live nearby.
When a Neighbor Joins
- The NC gives them a reusable green Food Project bag and suggests that they buy one extra nonperishable grocery item each week when they go to the supermarket. The food is stored in the bag. (Note: Besides the obvious practical application, our FP bag is an important symbol of mutual commitment, and a constant reminder of the food bank’s needs).
- Then every two months, NCs pick up each Donor’s bag of food, leave an empty one, and bring all the bags they collect to a designated drop-off point. In Ashland, it’s the Ashland Emergency Food Bank. In Medford, it’s the MFP office. In Talent, it’s the parking lot of the town’s biggest supermarket. In all cases, food bank representatives are there to receive and process it. In Medford, reps from 22 food banks work together.
What happens on Pickup Day?
- Each Food Donor puts the bag of food out by his or her front door. NCs pick up each bag, leave an empty one and a “Thank-you” card (which we supply), and take the food to the designated location.
- When we get a total weight for the entire pickup, we let NCs know, so they can let their Food Donor know how much of an impact the FP, and their work, is having. This communication is critical.
- The food goes to groups designated by the Food Project steering committee, in assigned proportions. In Medford, it’s divided between 19 different Medford food pantries, in a way determined by the pantries themselves. In Ashland, the food goes to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank. In Talent, it goes to the Talent Food Bank.