New software will help the Food Project's food donation model spread to other cities around the nation, according to board President John Javna.
Two dozen cities already have started their own Food Projects in which neighborhood coordinators gather food set out in bags by their neighbors six times a year.
The Food Project, which started in Ashland three years ago, enlisted the help of Phoenix resident Mica Cardillo and Southern Oregon University student Matthew Swindle to create software that makes it easier for organizers and neighborhood coordinators to perform their tasks.
Other cities will be able to put the software to use, Javna said. "This is the instrument by which we'll export this. People in Jackson County have made this happen," he said.
Going through a demonstration of the software, Javna pointed out how it can show dots on a map to reveal the homes of neighborhood coordinators and donors. Neighborhood coordinators can rearrange lists of names and addresses of donors in their neighborhoods to plan out efficient routes, then print out the lists for pickup day.
The software can be used to send out welcome emails to new donors, add their names and addresses to a database and locate the nearest neighborhood coordinator. All the information in the database can be edited and updated.
"This will make it easier for the neighborhood coordinators. They already love doing it," Javna said.
The Medford Food Project is using the software. Other branches in Jackson County will begin using it after Oct. 13, which is the next pickup date, Javna said.
The Food Project regularly fields queries from other cities that want to start their own efforts using Jackson County's model.
Javna said he hopes the model will spread from 24 to 60 cities next year, and to at least 150 cities the following year.
"The goal is to make this available to as many people as possible around the country," he said.
The benefit of the Food Project model is that it gathers a steady supply of food throughout the year for food banks and other distribution points.
Traditionally, food banks get a surge of donations during the holidays and from occasional food drives, but see supplies dwindle at other times of the year.
Reach reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.