Residents who recently received a food collection bag on their doorstep have until this weekend to fill them if they want to help families in need.
About 20,000 bags, donated by Stater Bros. Markets, were delivered to homes in Redlands, Loma Linda, Mentone and Highland with the goal of filling the pantries at Family Service Association of Redlands in time for the holidays.
Filled food bags will be collected from homes beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 11.
“Everybody that comes through our program is living at or slightly below federal poverty guidelines, so food is a huge staple of what we administer here,” said Kyra Stewart, executive director of Family Service Association.
The food drive brings in 20 to 24 tons of food, Stewart said.
“The food drive effort this weekend will help stock our food pantry for the whole year and really helps us with the holiday food giveaways,” Stewart said.
The drive was started about eight years ago by Boy Scout Troop 29 with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Redlands.
Since, the drive has spread to four communities and is supported by hundreds of volunteers from the LDS Church, other local churches, Family Service Association, Crafton Hills College and the community.
“More of the community is involved now, which is how it should be,” said Judy Cannon, director of public affairs for the LDS Church.
During the food drive, volunteers will head out into neighborhoods to collect the bags, while others unload, weigh, sort and store the thousands of pounds of donated food at Family Service Association, 612 Lawton St.
Volunteers are still needed to help sort the food donations Saturday morning, Cannon said.
“We need a lot of volunteers to unload, sort it and get it moved into their warehouse area,” Cannon said. “It takes a hundred volunteers just to do the sorting.”
Residents are to fill the bags with nonperishable food, such as peanut butter, tuna fish, pop top soups or food that can easily be heated in a mircrowave, Stewart said.
Cannon also asks that residents check the expiration dates.
“It has to expire at least six months in the future for it to go on the shelves,” Cannon said.
Residents who did not receive a food collection bag but still want to donate can fill any bag and take it to Family Service Association, Cannon said.
“People are welcome to drop them off themselves at Family Service Association and then if they want to, they can stay and help,” Cannon said. “That’s even better.”
Family Service Association has been helping families and individuals in need for more than 115 years.
The organization assists with basic needs, such as food, housing and clothing for the homeless; at-risk homeless; and low income residents, according to its website.
The association aims to assist in the process of securing longer term stable housing for families that meet certain income guidelines and to guide the client toward self-sufficiency, according to the website.
In 2016, Family Service Association served 5,000 meals and more than 800 emergency food assistance, which is a week’s supply of food, to families, Stewart said, making the food drive crucial for the association.
“We are so grateful for such a philanthropic community and for the partnership of the LDS Church who really are the ones who organized this on our behalf,” Stewart said. “We couldn’t do it on our own and it’s truly a collective effort.”
For more information or to volunteer, contact Family Service Association volunteer coordinator Blake Geffen by phone at 909-793-2673 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
How to contribute
Residents who wish to donate, but do not have a collection bag can drop off a bag of food at Family Service Association, 612 Lawton St., from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11.
Food can also be donated to the association from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the first and third Saturday of the month.
For more information about FSA visit their website at https://www.redlandsfamilyservice.org/help-the-cause/ or call the Redlands office at 909-793-2673