VOC leads charge in April Green Bag food collections
The Verde Valley Neighborhood Food Project gathered more than 11,000 pounds of non-perishable food items from five communities during its April 13 collection, according to co-chairs Nicole Davis and Chelee Skinner. That total is the equivalent of 9,168 meals for hungry individuals and families in the Verde Valley.
Supporters in the Village of Oak Creek led the collection efforts, gathering just less than half of the overall total, with 5,011 pounds of food collected from 318 food donors.
Sedona neighbors collected 2,966 pounds of food, followed by Cottonwood (1,582 pounds), Cornville (1,217 pounds), and Camp Verde (226 pounds). Food from the 100 donors in Cornville and Camp Verde is brought to the Cottonwood collection site for sorting.
Davis and Skinner emphasize that the heart of the collections, which occur on the second Saturday of every other month, are the 67 neighborhood coordinators who pick up the bright green bags from their areas.
“These are the men and women who recruit participants by contacting their friends and neighbors, explaining how the project works and the need to collect food for local food banks and organizations in the Verde Valley. “A lot of residents, including part timers who are here for just a few months each year, do not recognize the important role the green bag project plays in alleviating a serious hunger problem here.”
For instance, at the Mountain View UMC Food Bank in Cottonwood, more than half the food that is distributed from food pantry comes from the Verde Valley Neighborhood Food Project. By the numbers, the donations serve 40 to 50 individuals selecting food for their families on the second or fourth Wednesday of each month.
In 2018, the Food Bank also provided food items for their Thursday evening youth dinner, Picnic in the Park, and some meals for the Verde Valley Homeless Coalition overnight shelter. Occasionally, they deliver food to people who are unable to get to the Food Bank due to illness.
“We could not operate without the food that is provided by the green bag project,” according to the United Methodist Church Food Bank’s Jim Bachus and Sharon Joseph. “We often hear comments from recipients how the food that we provide makes a huge difference in their lives.”
While the Sedona Community Food Bank gets food and perishable items such as fruit and vegetables from a variety of local sources such as grocery stores, the non-perishable food collected by the Verde Valley Neighborhood Food Project regularly fills the shelves for needy families, including home bound people and the weekend backpack program for students at West Sedona Elementary and Red Rock Middle and High School.
“Our biggest need right now,” Davis says, is for more neighborhood coordinators. We would like to increase the number of neighborhoods participating throughout the Verde Valley, especially in Sedona and Cottonwood.”
The next food collection is on Saturday, June 8.
For more information about becoming a Neighborhood Coordinator or a Food Donor, please contact Nicole Davis at (928) 301-2804.