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100,000 Pounds Of Food, And Counting

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Sonora, CA — A local anti-hunger group intent on putting a dent in local hunger reached an impressive goal this weekend.

Following its latest and final “feed it forward” collection for 2015, which took place this past Saturday, the grassroots Motherlode Food Project (MLFP) — founded about three and a half years ago and fueled through a growing network of neighborhood and community donor groups — passed the 100,000-pound mark in nonperishable food donations to the Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency (A-TCAA) Food Bank.

A-TCAA Food Bank Director Lee Kimball took the opportunity to acknowledge the impressive milestone by presenting MLFP founders Ellen Beck and Sue Mundy, both retired school teachers, with “Hunger Fighter” awards. (Click in the left image box to view pictures taken by A-TCAA at its Jamestown food bank on collection day this past Saturday, Dec. 12.)

MLFP recalls its first delivery to ATCAA was just short of 1,500 pounds; it now averages about 4,000 pounds in nonperishable food items every other month. These collections are more than “helpful,” they now make up roughly half of the nonperishable food supplies that ATCAA Food Bank takes in, overall. According to the MLFP website, about half of these items are dispersed by ATCAA and over two dozen other accredited organizations across the county that assist needy households — many of them single-parent families and senior citizens. The remainder supplies geographically and demographically underserved county residents through service programs such as Food For Kids at local schools as well as a distribution for homebound senior citizens.

How It Works

Groups are formed when friends or neighbors, led by a neighborhood coordinator (NC), agree to donate some amount of food every other month. MLHP provides every donor with a reusable green MLFP grocery bag in which to collect and store nonperishable food items. A suggested donation might be one extra grocery item purchase each week — or about eight items per scheduled pick up over the course of six pick ups per year; these are scheduled to occur every other month on the second Saturday. When each group’s NC picks up their donors’ bag on the second Saturday, an empty one is left in its place, along with a thank you card and tax credit receipt. Collected goods are then brought to the ATCAA Food Bank, where collection totals, measured in pounds, are regularly shared with all the donors so they can tell how their efforts are helping the community.

This past Saturday’s collection came in at a whopping 8,000 pounds; the October pick up resulted in almost 5,000 pounds of nonperishable foods. In 2015 alone, MLFP totaled nearly 22,700 pounds in food supplies, and also collected over $5,000 in cash donations.

Modeled on a community program founded by a group of friends in Ashland, Ore., MLHP’s goals are to help provide a regular food supply year ’round to those who need it; create new neighborhood connections, further strengthening the community; and to serve as a model for other communities. Along with individuals, supportive groups participate such as members of the Kiwanis and special interest clubs as well as local churches of many faiths. MLFP recently helped inspire a similar effort in Calaveras County. For details on the Calaveras Food Project, click here.

The next MLFP pick up date is coincidentally scheduled for Feb. 13, 2016, the day before Valentine’s Day. Anyone interested in a “heartful” show of caring for the hungry in the community by becoming a regular food donor or neighborhood coordinator for a start up group can get more details by clicking here.