There has been a big increase in awareness of wage gap and food insecurity in San Juan
County since the pandemic started, and these are not likely to improve anytime soon. The Orcas
Island Food Bank (OIFB) has been able to fill this need with grant-funded produce and WA State
agency-issued pantry staples, but they are looking for help to go a little
beyond that. To this end, they are looking for community members who
are willing to provide additional staples, plus culturally important foods
and specialty items, not otherwise supplied, as a gift to other community
members experiencing food insecurity. And perhaps in your cultural
heritage or in certain dishes you prepare, you have some special food items
you might like to share with others. The Orcas Island Food Bank would like
us to think about gifting such items to our neighbors, binding us more
as a true community as we go beyond simply providing government-issued
foods.There is a nationwide movement underway that started in Ashland, Oregon to provide a steady supply of food to those experiencing food insecurity. The Ashland Food Project created a door-to-door system with their neighbors to collect non-perishable food items every two months (even-numbered months). Starting this October (2021), we are launching our own Orcas Food Project. Here’s how it works:
1. Any neighbor wanting to donate non-perishable food items every other month will be
given a reusable collection bag. In your bag, you will receive a list of needed items from the
Orcas Island Food Bank. You will have two months to shop for the items on the list, and if you
want to include one specialty item (limited to one due to Food Bank storage space), that would
2. Whether you shop the day before your collection date or pick up a couple of items on
your weekly shopping trip, by the collection date you should have all the items in your bag
that you wish to donate. This should include the items mentioned on the list, plus any additional
suggested items you wish to gift. Due to OIFB's current lack of space, please do not use this
as an opportunity to clean out your pantry. The only way they can store and distribute food
quickly and equitably in their small space is to keep items uniform. Sticking to the request list
will help them accomplish this.
3. Place your bag filled with the food items outside your front door on your designated
collection date. Collection dates will be on the second Sunday every other month.
4. The neighborhood coordinator (NC) will collect the filled food bag and leave you an empty
bag for the next time.
5. All filled food bags will then be delivered to the Orcas Island Food Bank.
The NC will be contacting all food donors a week before and then a day before the pickup day. If
you are ready for the NC to stop by, please send a quick email or give a phone call that you will
have the bag of food on your porch. Should you be gone on the pickup day, since the NC will be
delivering the bags to the Food Bank on the Monday after the Sunday pickup day, please bring
your bag to the NC’s house in time for it to be included. If the NC doesn’t hear back from you,
the NC will assume that you aren’t able to participate this time. This would especially apply to
those of you who are part-timers.
If you would like to participate, please contact Geri Turnoy, program coordinator:
Helping Your Neighbors Through the
Orcas Food Project