Supplying food items to necessary hygienic products is only the start of what the Brown Bag Food Project does. Its true goal is to let citizens of Wood County who are struggling with food insecurity know there is help for meeting their needs and accessing vital information on community resources.
The idea for the organization started in 2013, and the Brown Bag Food Project earned non-profit status in 2015. Since then, it has strived to diminish the food insecurity problem in Wood County. Many people the organization serves do not qualify for federal help, so the community does what it can to ensure these people have something to eat.
The Brown Bag Food Project’s website says 14.8% of Wood County residents struggle with food insecurity.
Going into their fifth year, the organization holds various fundraisers and events throughout the year to raise money and get products for those in need. Amy Jeffers, vice chair of the organization, said there are many things they do to raise money.
“We are an all-volunteer organization, so any money that we raise is through fundraising events, we are able to get a couple of smaller grants each year and that carries us over a little bit,” Jeffers said.
Fundraising events range from selling chocolate covered strawberries during Valentine’s Day, gourmet caramel apples during the fall and more. These events are highly anticipated by the community, meaning they will call ahead just to see if they can order early.
The Soup Bowl event is a new fundraiser in collaboration with the university. Students in the Clay Club create a little over 300 handmade bowls which are then donated to the organization. Community members then purchase their own ticket and are able to select a bowl of their choice and taste test provided soups or enjoy a full meal.
Aside from fundraising, the organization gets their products from many other sources as well. Sometimes, community members will stop by and drop off basic necessities, but they also take advantage of SeaGate Food Bank in Toledo, where they can get pre-bought store items for a discounted price or free.
When it comes to benefitting the public, the Brown Bag Food Project not only helps with food insecurity issues in Wood county, but also provide many forms of community outreach.
“We go to festivals, we have tables setup, we give talks to a number of classes and organizations on campus, we’ve talked with churches,” Jeffers said. “In that respect, we really try to get the Wood County residents to understand that food insecurity is one of those issues that could happen to anybody.”
With the winter and holiday season approaching, reaching those in need is crucial. One of the main things done in this season is handing out Thanksgiving dinner to those who needed it. The organization pairs with BGSU’s honor fraternity, Order of Omega to get donations for all of the items associated with a full Thanksgiving dinner.
“We try to prep for the holidays and help out a little extra. We will usually be able to purchase hams and other items like that because we know that usually there are people that can use a little bit of extra help around the holiday times,” Jeffers said.
While food insecurity is still a problem among those in Wood County, the Brown Food Project gives hope and a sense of security.
“We need to recognize that there is a lot of people out here that need help, and there are places they can get it,” Jeffers said.
To learn more about the Brown Bag Food Project or learn how to get involved, one can visit https://www.brownbagfoodproject.org/.