ASHLAND EMERGENCY FOOD BANK, MARCH 2018
The 501c3 Files
By: Adam and Sophia S.W. Bogle
Organized Chaos to the Rescue!
Ashland Emergency Food Bank and Ashland Food Project as seen in the Ashland Sneak Preview
Don’t know what organized chaos looks like? Come on down to Clover Lane (you know…the road that leads straight into Caldera Taphouse) on the second Saturday morning every other month. You will see a line of cars, and dozens of volunteers gathering, weighing, sorting, stacking and shelving food from the Ashland Food Project. Rain, snow or 100 degree weather, we are out there to stock the Ashland Emergency Food Bank (AEFB) shelves. Generally you will see me (Adam Bogle) on the front line, counting bags and unloading cars.
The average bag of food weighs about 12 pounds, and on the last food drive over 25,000 pounds of food were delivered. If you do the math, that is about 2000 bags, unloaded from the platoon of neighborhood volunteers. After gathering up the famous “Green Bags” from their neighbors, they arrive at the food bank fully loaded in their assortment of cars; from the neatly packed pickup to the old black and red VW bug whose trunk won’t stay open. Next the sorting begins. Glass and crushable items are removed from the bags. Everything else goes into a string of shopping carts that are then sorted into bins. When the bins are full, the loader volunteers in their orange vests are called in to transport the full bins into the warehouse with hand trucks.
Once inside, every label is inspected to make sure the food is not out of date, and then it is sorted into categories and stacked onto the shelves. When there is no room left, the remaining food is stored, stacked in buckets eight feet high. All of this happens in a 4-5 hour hectic whirlwind of enthusiastic volunteers every two months. Personally, I love helping out. There is a feeling of camaraderie and purpose that makes these Saturday mornings something I actually look forward to and I am not a morning person!
The organization in the organized chaos is thanks to Traci Darrow. Traci is the executive director for the AEFB (and member of your Ashland City Council). She started just over a year ago, taking over from Pam Marsh (who is now one of our State Representatives). I asked Traci what she would like the community to know about AEFB. She responded enthusiastically: “I have had many different careers or types of jobs in my life and I have to say this will end up being my favorite and most rewarding. I wake up each morning and look forward to the kind, hardworking, and friendly people I have the honor to work with. I extend a heartfelt thank you to all in the community who support us!”
She added: “What people really need to know about AEFB is that the need is real. The “Green Bag” food only provides about 35% of what is needed. Perishables like milk and meats can’t come in on the food drive, so those items have to be purchased with cash donations. The Ashland Emergency Food Bank does not receive any government funding for operations and instead relies on the community, individuals, and several local foundations for funding. Every day there is a team of volunteers here to help shoppers, work at the intake desk, stock shelves, take in deliveries and in general keep the place going. Last year we had nearly 300 volunteers give over 7,000 hours of their time.”
The AEFB exists to help our hungry neighbors who live in Ashland and nearby. Not just the poor or homeless people. Anyone who might be struggling a bit to make ends meet is welcome. Nobody plans to need the food bank, but with rents going up, utilities going up, and other costs increasing, just one setback can mean making a choice between keeping the heat on or buying food. Having strong safety nets in our community is important for everyone for just in case. Perhaps unsurprisingly, year after year, the number of individuals and families served are increasing and it is a struggle to keep up with the demand.
Sadly, between Ashland Food Project (AFP) pickups, those bulging shelves become bare again. We are truly fortunate that such a great program as the AFP exists to help refill the shelves. The “Green Bag” program makes donating as easy as recycling (it is certainly less confusing)!
April 14th is the next Green Bag pick up day. Become a Food Donor! www. AshlandFoodProject.com. They make it so easy to help! It is the small, sustainable changes to our day to day lives that will change the world!
Cash or checks can be delivered to them during their open hours (Monday-Friday 9:30-12:30), or mailed to AEFB at: P.O. Box 3578, Ashland, OR 97520.
Or, if you would like to join the volunteers that keep the AEFB running, contact them at 541-488-9544 or email@example.com to learn more.