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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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10/25/2013 10:48:00 AM
Food Neighbors project takes big steps after local collection
Yavapai Food Neighbors Project volunteers sort generous “green bag” food donations at the first Village Collection at Webers IGA on Oct. 12.  The Sedona Food Bank and the Verde Valley School Youth Pantry for the Big Park School Back Pack Program were the recipients.
Yavapai Food Neighbors Project volunteers sort generous “green bag” food donations at the first Village Collection at Webers IGA on Oct. 12. The Sedona Food Bank and the Verde Valley School Youth Pantry for the Big Park School Back Pack Program were the recipients.
By Gail Shaw Simpson
Special to The Villager

Were you there? It was that sunny Oct. 12 Saturday in Weber's parking lot. LOTS of folks from nearly every neighborhood in our Village/Big Park Community were streaming in, their cars fairly bursting with fat green bags filled to the brim with bountiful food donations. Yes, this was the first LOCAL Collection Day of the new and growing Yavapai Food Neighbors Project. It was amazing for many reasons.

In just two months, with more enthusiastic Donor and Coordinator volunteers joining daily, this new Project helping to feed our local hungry has tripled the amount of food that was collected at the initial Pilot held on August 17th....and those donations stay right here in our own Big Park/Village/Sedona Community.

Half of the October Collection, for example, has been donated to support the innovative weekend "Back Pack" Program to help hungry kids at our Big Park Elementary School. With 51 percent of the school's population identified as "food-insecure" (not having enough to eat, especially on weekends), it has been a struggle for food banks to consistently provide enough food, and for loyal, but over-worked volunteers to find the time and effort weekly to pack the bags for the number of kids in need.

But all that will change now, thanks again to our Donors and a remarkable new partnership that has grown out of the Food Neighbors Project. Our two schools, Big Park Elementary and Verde Valley School, just down the road from each other, have come together in a sensible and wonderful way. The elite Verde Valley School, with college-bound students in grades 7-12, has long promoted the value of Community service and volunteerism...and miraculously, has embraced this Project! They also have plenty of room on their lovely campus to safely house a large food pantry to be used just for the Back Packs. Is this not a match made in Heaven? Those wonderful big kids will be greatly appreciated packers, no doubt...and the identified recipients, all of them, will happily receive a nicely stuffed back pack each Friday afternoon.

With the Communities of Camp Verde, Cottonwood, Cornville and Clarkdale soon stepping into the Yavapai Food Neighbors Project with their own Collections, the organization looks forward to even bigger numbers, both here and there, helping more people throughout the Verde Valley after our next Collection date on December 14th!

• Are you interested in being a Donor in your neighborhood? Learn about how EASY it is by watching a short video at and find the EASY sign-up. Soon you'll be connected with a coordinator in your neighborhood.

• Are you interested in coordinating your own neighborhood with the Yavapai Food Neighbors Project? ***Your neighborhood does not even have to be geographical: How about your church or book group, office or just a group of friends? Just go to for easy sign-up, and they will get back to you.

October 12th Yavapai Food Neighbors Project

Collection Results

Submitted by Amy Aossey, Executive Director, Yavapai Food Council, 928-593-0755

Total October 12th Collection Weight: 4438.7 lbs...compared to August Pilot: 1463 lbs

Bags Collected: 345 ... compared to August Pilot:  101

Donors in Neighborhoods: 361 ... compared to August Pilot:  114

Neighborhood Coordinators: 35 ...  compared to August Pilot:     6

Collection Communities Include:

• Village of Oak Creek (2275 lbs)

• Sedona           (1431.3 lbs)

• Camp Verde   (591 lbs.)

• Cornville        (Collected by Cottonwood NCs)

• Cottonwood    (141.4 lbs.)

Hunger Programs Receiving Collection Food:

VOC Collection:

• Verde Valley School Youth Pantry for Big Park School Backpack program 50%

• Sedona Community Food Bank 25%

• Camp Verde Adventist Community Food Bank 25%

Sedona Collection:

• Sedona Community Food Bank 50%

• YMCA Youth Pantry 25%

• West Sedona School Backpack program 25%

With this extraordinary and perpetual support, Community food efforts that have been struggling are now secure. Please join YOUR Food Neighbors, and together, we can do MORE.

Please Contact: to register, or call Amy.

Yavapai Food Neighbors Project volunteers sort generous "green bag" food donations at the first Village Collection at Webers IGA on Oct. 12. The Sedona Food Bank and the Verde Valley School Youth Pantry for the Big Park School Back Pack Program were the recipients.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, October 28, 2013
Article comment by: number of pounds

Why the number of pounds each town donated? I know for a fact Cottonwood has had food programs for a number of years. Just because the other towns show less than Sedona, doesn't mean they are less giving. Unecessary reporting, in my opinion. On another note, thanks to all who volunteered, without you these projects wouldn't happen.

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