There has been a big increase in awareness of wage gap and food insecurity in San Juan County since the pandemic started, and these are not likely to improve anytime soon. The Orcas Island Food Bank (OIFB) has been able to fill this need with grant-funded produce and WA State agency-issued pantry staples, but they are looking for help to go a little beyond that.
To this end, they are looking for community members who are willing to provide additional staples, plus culturally important foods and specialty items, not otherwise supplied, as a gift to other community members experiencing food insecurity. And perhaps in your cultural heritage or in certain dishes you prepare, you have some special food items you might like to share with others. The Orcas Island Food Bank would like us to think about gifting such items to our neighbors, binding us more as a true community as we go beyond simply providing government-issued foods.
There is a nationwide movement underway that started in Ashland, Oregon to provide a steady supply of food to those experiencing food insecurity. The Ashland Food Project created a door-to-door system with their neighbors to collect non-perishable food items every two months (even-numbered months). In October 2021, we launched our own Orcas Food Project.
HERE'S HOW IT WORKS:
1. Any neighbor wanting to donate non-perishable food items every other month will be connected with a nearby neighborhood coordinator (see below) and given a reusable collection bag. In your bag, you will receive a current list of needed items from the Orcas Island Food Bank. You will have two months to shop for the items on the list, and if you want to include one specialty item (limited to one due to Food Bank storage space), that would be great.
2. Whether you shop the day before your collection date or pick up a couple of items on your weekly shopping trip, by the collection date you should have all the items in your bag that you wish to donate. This should include the items mentioned on the list, plus any additional suggested items you wish to gift. Due to OIFB's current lack of space, please do not use this as an opportunity to clean out your pantry. The only way they can store and distribute food quickly and equitably in their small space is to keep items uniform. Sticking to the request list will help them accomplish this. Please do not include open items or expired items.
3. Place your bag filled with the food items outside your front door on your designated collection date. Collection dates will be on the second Sunday of every other month - even numbered months.
4. The neighborhood coordinator (NC) will collect the filled food bag and leave you an empty bag and a new food list for the next time. Please do not deliver your filled bag to the Food Bank yourself.
5. All filled food bags will then be delivered to the Orcas Island Food Bank by the Neighborhood Coordinator who will be contacting all food donors a week before and then a day before the pickup day. If you are ready for the NC to stop by, please send a quick email or give a phone call that you will have the bag of food on your porch. Should you be gone on the pickup day, since the NC will be delivering the bags to the Food Bank on the Monday after the Sunday pickup day, please bring your bag to the NC’s house in time for it to be included. If the NC doesn’t hear back from you, the NC will assume that you aren’t able to participate this time. This would especially apply to those of you who are part-timers.
If you would like to participate, please contact Geri Turnoy, program coordinator, to receive an "official" Food Project bag and current food list: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-376-4165