Grass Valley, Calif. May 25, 2020 – Last Monday, Food Bank of Nevada County arrived at BriarPatch to pick up a donation of 39 cases of organic produce valued at $1,000 for food distribution in North San Juan, Grass Valley and to homebound seniors and people with disabilities.

“The love is getting spread and shared,” said Nicole McNeely, Executive Director Food Bank of Nevada County.

The following day, the Food Bank teamed up with county employees to distribute food to as many as 1000 individuals in North San Juan. The BriarPatch donation helps supplement groceries for folks living in rural areas of “The Ridge” and outlying communities such as Penn Valley, Pike, Alleghany, French Corral, Camptonville and Sierra City. Normally this time of year, the Food Bank typically distributes food to 400-600 individuals at that location.

“There is a huge need up there. There are a lot of seniors and people who don’t have good running vehicles to get to town,” said McNeely.

The recent donation from BriarPatch included slicing cucumbers, mini seedless watermelon, cantaloupe, carrots, Valencia oranges, Fuji apples, celery, yellow onions, cauliflower and zucchini.

“They haven’t been getting enough produce. This will be perfect for them,” said Facilities Manager Bob Dion.

Food donations like this are more important than ever because the Food Bank can no longer take donations from individuals in the community due to the increased risks of contamination the Coronavirus presents. Other resources, like a postal food drive that annually brings in 15,000 pounds of food, has been postponed. Meanwhile, the needs from the community are at an all-time high. For the past two months, the Food Bank has been feeding an average of 2,000 people a week. Before the pandemic, the Food Bank was feeding 2,000 people per month.

“It’s quadrupled,” said Rita Dolphin, Volunteer Coordinator. Now many of the people receiving food are “first-timers” to the Food Bank. The Food Bank distributes to communities like Grass Valley, North San Juan and the Little Town of Washington.

The Food Bank is working with FREED Center for Independent Living to make deliveries to individuals in high risk groups like elderly clients and people with disabilities who are homebound and sheltering in place during the pandemic.

“We have so many clients who need delivery right now,” said McNeely.

Last week, BriarPatch donated store gift cards to the volunteers who are working hard to keep up with those numbers.

“I think they are getting tired. It’s a huge ask,” said McNeely. The Food Bank is starting to see a shortage of volunteers and need help for grocery packing, distribution days, delivery drivers for homebound clients and a soon-to-be-starting summer lunch program for children.

“We all have to work together to get through this,” said McNeely.

Become a volunteer!

BriarPatch owners who volunteer through the Co-op’s PatchWorks volunteer program receive 15 percent off a shopping trip for volunteering six hours per month. Learn more about volunteering:

Last week, BriarPatch recognized local reporters for their dedication to news coverage during the Coronavirus. Earlier this month, the Co-op donated lunches to county social service workers and the SPIRIT Peer Empowerment Center.

Read more stories about local heroes:

BriarPatch Food Co-op is a community-owned cooperative business. We provide our community with quality food and products, strengthen our local economy, and support local/regional businesses that are committed to regenerative agriculture, sustainability, humane practices, and organic farming.