A Simple Gesture
Food Collection: Keeping It Simple, the Green Bag Way
A Simple Gesture-Paradise was born in December 2010 as a grass roots method to replenish food on the depleting shelves of local food pantries. Jon and Karen Trivers had seen this type of food collection in action up in Ashland Oregon and decided with a little tweaking it was perfect for a community like the Paradise Ridge. The concept is simple, local households sign up to be a food bag donor and on the second Saturday of every "even" month a volunteer would drop by to pick up the cool green bag filled with food, leave a new bag and take the food to one of five supplemental food pantries on the Paradise Ridge.
Jon began speaking to every group that would listen to recruit food donors and volunteer drivers. Because of the simple nature of the program, people began signing up. The first pickup was in February 2011 with 335 donors contributing 5,000 pounds of food. Donor numbers doubled by April to 782 then steadily increased to where we are today: 70 volunteer drivers picking up over 1800 bags from 1665 donors and delivering over 23,000 pounds of food with every pickup. That is over 135,000 pounds of food annually supporting five pantries to feed our hungry neighbors to help them get back on their feet. And the program is still growing.
When the drivers deliver the food, there are over 100 pantry volunteers who empty the bags, sort the food and load up the empty shelves, ready for the next food distribution to their families signed up on their supplemental food program.
As the numbers were quickly growing in 2011, Jon and Karen sought out for help. Five volunteers jumped to the task of "Sector Leaders" whose primary task is to organize drivers for a geographic area. Ed Doyle, a local database guru, signed up to design a software system to keep the donor information and driver routes secure and organized (our success is owed much to Ed’s expertise!). Lastly, Jon and Karen knew the sustainability of the program needed to rest with an established organization with local roots and commitment to the program; this is when California Vocations Inc. (CVI) agreed to take on the long term responsibility to coordinate all aspects of the program. CVI, through its programs to support individuals with developmental disabilities, is involved with many local activities that support our community, this decision was a natural and received 100% support from their board of directors.
Bob Irvine, Executive Director of CVI, stated the ownership transition has been smooth between Jon and Karen Trivers and California Vocations. We enjoy being involved members of the feeding partnership between Simple Gesture, its many volunteers and the five supplemental pantries.