JFS Perspectives

Monday, February 20, 2017

Bags Full of Hope: A New Kind of Food Drive

Bags Full of Hope: A New Kind of Food Drive

The Weinberg Food Pantry at Jewish Family Service has launched a new program that makes it simple to donate food to help the hungry in our community.

The “Hope is in the Bag” program provides reusable shopping bags to businesses, churches/synagogues, and other organizations that in turn distribute them to employees, congregants, and students. Those who want to participate can take a bag to fill with nonperishable food items that are most needed in the pantry. Donors can fill their food donation bag when they do regular grocery shopping and simply return their full bag. JFS picks up the donated food from the sponsoring organization at the end the drive.

Hope is in the BagEach bright green bag includes a label with simple instructions, list of needed food items, and the deadline for returning full bags. Donating food has never been easier.

The idea for the program came from Peggy Bernstein, who recently moved to Denver from Greensboro, North Carolina. “I participated in a similar food drive in Greensboro and I thought it was such a great idea that I wanted to share it with JFS,” explains Peggy. The pantry staff loved the idea and went to work making it a reality.

“I think everyone understands that hunger is a basic need,” says Peggy. “This project is so easy. There’s a bag with a tag that tells you what to buy. You take the bag with you on your next trip to the grocery store and fill it up. It’s so easy to pick up a few items for people in need.”

There was no cost to JFS for the bags, which were underwritten by J&B Building Company. Mindy Levy Peckar, an executive with J&B, is a JFS Board member and a longtime pantry volunteer. “When JFS Development director Dawn Richard called me about it, I said absolutely yes!” exclaims Mindy. “It’s such a brilliant idea and I like that it now becomes a no-cost program. From my experience in the pantry, I know JFS can use the food.”

The Hope is in the Bag program is a fun, simple way to engage companies, schools, and churches and synagogues in the fight against hunger. All they have to do is make the bags available to constituents and ask them to fill them with groceries. Organizations and schools can turn it into a fun competition to see which department or class can generate the most food.

The program provides a great learning opportunity for children, making them aware of how fortunate they are and teaching them empathy for others. They can help pick out food they think other children would like to eat.

This program is helping to stock the pantry with a steady supply of nonperishable food while freeing up resources to purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and meats. The pantry is trying to provide more high-quality fresh foods. It also gives the pantry some flexibility to get exactly what is needed at any given time.

JFS thanks Hebrew Educational Alliance, Denver Jewish Day School, Temple Sinai, and Calvary Baptist Church for helping to pilot the program. If you’re interested in hosting a Hope is in the Bag food drive at your organization, please contact Nancy Benyamin, director of Volunteer Services at 720.248.4642 or nbenyamin@jewishfamilyservice.org.



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