Mon, March 30

February Food Neighbors collection to the rescue ... again

Were you there? Did you see it? You would have loved it ... and felt so proud of our Community!

On that bright, crisp Saturday at the Outlet Mall, 45 cheerful Volunteers from the Village/Big Park and Sedona helped out at the 4th BIG Collection Day for the Yavapai Food Neighbors Project.

They set up the tables and tent, put out the bins, raised the balloons and greeted the 16 Neighborhood Coordinators from VOC and 13 from Sedona, as their cars rolled in, laden with a total of 370 food-filled green bags designated to help our local hungry. Those lovely bags were then unloaded and weighed, for a grand total of 3,900 pounds! Green bags were collected, as well, throughout the Verde Valley that morning, with an added total of 1,890 pounds brought to the Cottonwood Collection!

After being sorted and boxed, the generous donations destined for the emergency food providers were trucked directly back to their food pantries. Thanks to this Project, those recipients will now have shelves perennially stocked to handle the growing numbers of "food insecure" (those who don't know where their next meal is coming from) adults and children in our Community.

So, what has occurred that has created such need, and how could this hunger problem happen HERE? First, the recession hit, unemployment struck many families ... food stamps and other governmental programs have been cut back. Hunger programs like Meals on Wheels and traditional Food Banks have been struggling desperately to maintain supplies between holidays, simply not keeping up with the demand.

Did you know that 46 percent of children in our School District qualify for free/reduced cost meals? West Sedona Elementary School has the highest rate of 60 percent. A special Weekend Back Pack Program for Hungry Kids started two years ago, supported by several churches, but has been struggling to keep up. People want to help more, but haven't known how ... until now.

The Yavapai Food Neighbors Project actually makes it EASY. The concept has been proven in towns throughout the west for nearly five years. Two options for Project Volunteers make it SIMPLE:

• Donors simply commit to accepting a green Project bag, filling it with healthy non-perishable food items and putting it on their doorstep every-other month on Project Collection Day (with reminders)...that's it!

• Neighborhood Coordinators (NC) agree to organize a small group of friends or neighbors as their "Neighborhood" of Donors: They communicate with them about Project news, pick up their green bags (replacing them with new ones) and deliver them to the local Collection Site (the Outlet Mall) every-other month.

With this innovative Project, YOU can really make a difference. For easy sign-up, please go to our website: Questions? Please call Gail Simpson at 284-9720.

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