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A Matching Grant for Donations

Sonora Area Foundation logoSonora Area Foundation (SAF) has partnered with Mother Lode Food Project (MLFP) by offering a matching grant to bolster monetary donations in the face of MLFP’s suspended April food collection.

The Mother Lode Food Project’s (MLFP) success in the years since its 2012 inception lies in the simple brilliance of its mission: Establish networks of neighborhood volunteers to buy and collect food for bi-monthly donation to ATCAA Food Bank. Volunteers fill the project’s signature bright-green bags with nonperishable food for pick up, at which time they receive an empty bag to fill for the next collection date, which most recently was scheduled for April 11.

With the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent stay-home and social-distancing orders, however, April’s collection was suspended. But the need for food continues, especially with increasing numbers of Tuolumne County workers facing unemployment or reduction in work hours. So MLFP organizers turned their efforts this month to collecting a different sort of green: Monetary donations.

The project has received donations through the years from “Green Baggers” (a nickname some volunteers have adopted) who prefer to give cash rather than cans. As of MLFP’s February collection, it has received $14,060 in cash donations in addition to 201,839 pounds of food. MLFP food donations account for about half of the donations the food bank receives, according to MLFP’s website ( The food bank’s current urgent need led Sonora Area Foundation (SAF) to partner with the project to bolster those donations by offering a matching grant.

Apparently “Green Baggers” — and others — have hearts of gold: The community’s response has been impressive. Sonora Area Foundation has received donations totaling $15,000; with SAF’s matching grant of $15,000, a total of $30,000 has been granted to ATCAA Food Bank.

That generosity is not surprising to Ellen Beck, who, along with Sue Mundy, founded MLFP. “People often say they wanted to help their neighbors in need, but did not know how and the green bag makes it so easy,” she notes. “One can, one green bag at a time is how MLFP reached 100 tons of food donated to ATCAA.”

The matching grant is in conjunction with Sonora Area Foundation’s recently established Community Recovery Fund (CRF). The fund’s purpose is to assist local recovery efforts in response to the pandemic. Hunger is just one of those needs; other needs will be identified in the coming weeks and months.

Donations to the fund of up to $300 per donor will be matched. Because SAF does not charge any fees for any of its funds, 100 percent of donations to CRF will help Tuolumne County rebound from this crisis.

For more matching-grant or Community Recovery Fund information, contact SAF Executive Director Darrell Slocum at or (209) 533-2596.