The Ashland Emergency Food Bank collected 24,500 pounds of food in February from city residents who put those bright-green food bags on their doorsteps every two months for the Ashland Food Project — but the pantry expects it still would run out of food in the final couple weeks before the next collection.
To fill that gap, volunteers will go door-to-door in a one-hour blitz on Saturday, March 14, seeking to add 5,000 pounds to its monthly donation. They will focus their signup drive on Siskiyou Boulevard between Walker Street and Tolman Creek Road, says volunteer Rich Stickel.
In addition, AFP will step up “tabling” at Ashland markets — and organizers in 140 small Ashland neighborhoods will canvass their areas, notes volunteer Phil Gagnon. They are seeking 80 donors, who would make up 40 two-member teams.
So far, AFP has recruited a dozen Boy Scouts from Troop 112, up to 20 young people from Ashland Youth Collective, up to 22 from Southern Oregon University’s OSPIRG program, a dozen from SOU's Civic Engagement and Capstone Project, and up to a dozen from the food bank, says Gagnon. One 15-year old boy, working on his Eagle Scout badge, is trying to sign up 40 to 60 volunteers.
To encourage volunteers, AFP is limiting the drive to an hour and calling it “Sixty Minutes Against Hunger.” The goal is 400 new donors.
The idea is to increase AFP donations by 20 percent, says Stickel, "even though we are very successful."
"There’s this gap at the Food Bank in the last two or three weeks where they get pretty darn low on food for clients," he says. "It’s a process of gathering names of individuals and groups who we can count on for nonperishable food. We’re very confident about doing that.”
The Medford Food Project did a similar campaign in November and brought in 300 new donors, he adds. The Medford area collected about 28,500 pounds of food in February.
AFP provides 35 percent of total donations to the food bank and more than 80 percent of the nonperishable food, says food bank director Pam Marsh. Tabling continues all year.
“The consistency and predictability of AFP donations has changed the food bank business model, enabling us to predict supplies, manage our inventory and carefully use our limited funding to fill in gaps,” Marsh says. “Those magic green bags mean the world to us.”
The food bank serves a monthly average of 612 households with 1,500 adults and children.
Stickel and David Hogan are speaking to groups as they seek to mobilize volunteers. Contacts for the signup drive are Stickel at firstname.lastname@example.org and Hogan at email@example.com.
For more information, see ashlandfoodproject.com.
Reach Ashland freelance writer John Darling at firstname.lastname@example.org.