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Food Project thinks big

Ashland’s own home-grown food-collection system is poised to hit the big time.

Neighborhood Food Project, which started life as the Ashland Food Project, is the all-volunteer program that signs up residents who put a bag of food on their front steps every two months. Neighborhood coordinators pick up the bags and deliver them to food banks.

In Jackson County, volunteers collect 70,000 pounds of food every pickup.

The idea — the brainchild of Ashland’s John Javna — works so well that it has spread to 18 Oregon communities and to eight other states. Now, organizers want to spread the word even further, and have launched an online Kickstarter campaign to raise the money needed to do it.

The fundraising will pay for a toolkit of digital and printed materials that can be distributed to any community that requests one. Organizers have raised $120,000 and are aiming for $100,000 more to produce the kits and ensure that the model will work anywhere.

In the works are plans for a website template, a mobile app that food donors can take shopping to tell them what items are currently needed, along with promotional videos and printed materials including press releases and handbooks.

What makes the Neighborhood Food Project so effective is its simplicity and its low cost. In fact, developing the toolkits to help start new projects is more expensive than actually operating one.

You can get involved by becoming a food donor or a neighborhood coordinator, or by donating to the campaign.

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