By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
The Brown Bag Food Project had a successful first year by the only measure that matters: 782 people fed, 104 of those in the month of April alone.
The grassroots food effort has been so successful, it’s now finding itself short of resources to help those in need.
This summer as it marks its first year of existence it has its work cut out for it.
Still the founder Amy Jo Holland and the project’s board members are optimistic they will find a way to continue the work she started.
The Brown Bag Food project helps meet the immediate needs of folks who find themselves in hard times. The project can offer four to five days’ worth of food, and does so without income checks or referrals. And that food includes fresh dairy, meat and vegetables not usually found at food pantries. The project also can provide toiletries, personal hygiene products and diapers that Food Stamps won’t cover. And the project can arrange the delivery of these items during off hours when convenient for people who are working.
Project volunteers try to help their clientele find more permanent assistance. “We try to be a guide not just temporary help,” said board member Amy Jeffers.
All this is done “no questions asked,” said board member Nathan Eberly.
Holland started the effort a couple years ago. She works at WalMart and discovered that some of her co-workers were going several days without eating. So she started helping them out. The effort grew. For a while the project helped people in Toledo as well, but that “overwhelmed” the fledgling effort, Eberly said. So the Brown Bag Project concentrated on Wood County.
There’s enough need close to home. In Wood County 13.7 percent of residents experience food insecurity – they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
In some families adults will skip meals so the kids can eat, Jeffers said.
Eberly said he knew Holland from other social activism and decided to help her with accounting and money management. They were able to complete the paperwork to get non-profit status by July.
Besides decreasing stocks and financial resources, one of the obstacles the Brown Bag Food Project faces is the lack of a permanent location to store its food. Right now Holland’s mother is storing it for them.
If they had a permanent home, Eberly said, they would be able to purchase food from the Northwest Ohio Food bank for a deep discount.
He said they are working with local landowners to try to find a place.
The project also has some events planned for this summer to try to replenish its stocks of food and bank account.
A food drive will be held at the Bowling Green WalMart June 3 from noon to 7 p.m. and June 4 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
On June 16, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. the project will host a wine glass painting class in Perrysburg.
On June 26 at 1 p.m. Grounds for Thought in Bowling Green will host a benefit concert featuring the Grand Royale Ukulelists of the Black Swamp (GRÜBS) and singer songwriter Tom Gorman.
On Sept. 3, the Brown Bag Project will partner with the Boy Scouts on a 5K and half marathon.
Check out the project’s Facebook page: Brown Bag Food Project Wood County or its website: www.brownbagfoodproject.org for details.
The project can be reached at 419-960-5345.