Green Bag goes to the movies
A documentary being made about the Ashland Food Project, titled “The Green Bag Solution,” is intended to spread the word about the organization on a national level.
The Ashland Food Project, founded by John Javna, Paul Giancarlo and Steve Russo, has been so successful that 50 communities in the United States and Canada have adopted the model as a way to stock area food pantries.
In 2015, Russo decided to create a documentary.
“There are so many people in this country who are hungry, and this was the simplest idea to help those who need food,” said Russo. “I figured if we could make a documentary that’s really well made and really inspirational, then we might be able to get more communities across the country to actually do this.”
The Ashland Food Project, founded in 2009, is a community food drive that involves every neighborhood in Ashland. On the second Saturday of even-numbered months, people put out a green bag filled with nonperishable foods, and a neighborhood coordinator picks up the full bag and leaves an empty one. The filled bags are then delivered to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank on Clover Lane.
The Ashland Food Project is meant to provide a simple solution to hunger, and it's designed so residents can participate during the course of their daily life. About 2,800 Ashland households participate in the project, according to Gregg Gassman, co-producer of the film.
The documentary is in the funding phase. A teaser of the documentary, along with an explanation of the program and a link to donate money, can be found at www.kickstarter.com/projects/469474133/the-green-bag-solution.
The goal for the Kickstarter campaign is to raise $5,000 by Sunday, July 10. As of Thursday evening, $2,295 had been pledged. Kickstarter requires the entire $5,000 goal be reached in order for the Ashland Food Project to receive any of the money.
Members of the production crew have written to the Sundance Film Festival and Safeway Inc. for grants to fund the film. The overall fundraising goal for the film is $15,000 to $25,000, according to Russo.
The documentary will focus on local people — both the hungry and those who help them. It will feature the simplicity of the project through stories of the hungry in the community, as well as volunteers for the Food Project and Food Bank, according to Russo.
“The genesis of the food project is unique,” said Gassman. “One of the messages we want to get across is that any community that has problems … the solution can be found in the community.”
The organizers hope to finish filming by June, edit a rough cut by July, have a focus group viewing in late July, complete post-production by August, and release the final cut in September. Submission to selected film festivals would occur in the fall. The film will be about 18 minutes long.
Laney D’Aquino, staff videographer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, is directing the film. Producers are Ron Mogel, Gassman and Russo.
“It would really be great if we could get this backed by the community where it actually started,” said Russo.
Every eight weeks the Ashland Food Project donates between 25,000 and 30,000 pounds of food to the Food Bank, according to Russo.
“Walking down the streets of Ashland, it is difficult to imagine hunger is an issue,” producers wrote in one of their grant requests. “It is not just the homeless or displaced who are hungry.”
The Ashland Emergency Food Bank feeds 500 to 600 families a month, according to Pam Marsh, director of the Food Bank. Three-quarters of people who use the Food Bank are housed, and 25 percent of them are children, according to Marsh.
After the Ashland Food Project got established, Javna spread the concept to numerous communities through the state and beyond through the Neighborhood Food Project. The website www.neighborhoodfoodproject.com gives information about starting a food project, including how to get donors and how to record the amount of donated food.
“I think the simplicity of it all will be the most appealing thing to other communities,” said Russo. “You can individualize your project based on your community. It doesn’t have to be exactly like what we do in Ashland.”
Email news intern Caitlin Fowlkes at email@example.com.