|The Prescott Valley community on Saturday kicked off the Yavapai Food Neighbors Project, a program started by the Yavapai Food Council, to keep a steady stream of food going to area food banks.|
Bright lime green bags are beginning to pop up around town, and the Yavapai Food Council hopes they will show up in even greater numbers.
The Yavapai Food Neighbors Project is just one of the Food Council's ways of helping people in county communities who are food insecure.
"They are the working poor," said Amy Aossey, executive director of the Food Council. "They are working one job or multiple jobs," but still struggle to keep food on their tables.
The idea is for people to buy one or two extra non-perishable food items each time they go to the grocery store and fill the bag up over a couple months' time.
That's all donors have to do, because a volunteer neighborhood coordinator will fetch the bags from resident's doorsteps and take them to a collection on site on the second Saturday of each even-numbered month,
The food will then go to area food banks for distribution to needy people.
The Yavapai Food Neighbors Project launched in Prescott Valley this past Saturday and the second one will be on Saturday, Oct. 11, at a collection site yet to be determined, Aossey said.
The Yavapai Food Council grew out of the Verde Food Council, which began as a grassroots effort in 2009. Because it had been so successful in its mission, the United Way of Yavapai Couuty asked it to expand it area of service, Aossey said. It then became the Yavapai Food Council and is working to extend the project beyond Prescott Valley and get it up and running in Prescott and Chino Valley, for example, as well.
The Verde Food Council began with a grassroots effort in 2009.. The Food Council has two initiatives: child nutrition and the emergency food provider project, of which the green bag food collection project is a part.
Over the past year, since its inception in 2013, the project has collected more than 60,000 pounds of food, which is 52,000 meals, Aossey said.
The Yavapai Neighborhood Food Project gives food banks a regular stream of food, Aossey said, which is important, because when their shelves empty, they have to buy food at retail prices. Creating a stable of ongoing donors assures keeping food banks in ready supply, rather than their having to rely on one-time food drives alone.
One in six people have to deal with hunger, Aossey said. Other than the working class, this population includes senior citizens and children, she added.
"Hunger is a huge problem," she said.
In order for the program to grow, Aossey said the project needs volunteers to collect food from people's porches and people willing to fill green bags with groceries.
For information, call Aossey at 928-254-8172 or log onto www.yavapaifoodneighborsproject.org or www.yavapaifoodcouncil.org.