NEVADA COUNTY When BriarPatch Food Co-op’s Marketing Department read that The Food Bank of Nevada County was being forced to scale back food distribution, the team quickly rushed to action.

Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 27, BriarPatch will launch a canned food drive in the store to help feed the 1,000 families in need that The Food Bank serves each month.

“When we learned that The Food Bank was struggling to feed people in our community, we knew that we needed to help. No one should ever have to go hungry, and the grocery and merchandising teams pitched in and it came together fast,” said Rebecca Torpie, Marketing Manager for BriarPatch Food Co-op.

The BriarPatch campaign, “Yes, WE CAN” encourages BriarPatch shoppers to purchase cans of Natural Sea albacore tuna and Amy’s brand soup located in a visible display within the store.  For every can of tuna and soup sold, the Co-op will donate one, as well. Folks can then take it a step further and “double the love” by donating their purchased canned goods into the plastic blue donation barrels located in the front of the store. The campaign ends Feb. 2.

“BriarPatch is in a unique spot of being a community hub where we can help shine a light on the needs of our neighbors. When we can offer an opportunity for all of us to work together to fight food insecurity, we want to show up,” said Torpie.

The Food Bank was forced to scale back their food distribution from weekly to twice a month when a state contract changed affecting the food bank’s allocation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to Executive Director Nicole McNeely.

Some of McNeely’s requests for food have come back empty at a time when more people than ever are in need of assistance due to job losses triggered by the pandemic. Without USDA commodities, The Food Bank is desperately short of protein and canned vegetables.

“It’s really concerning for me because the families we feed, many don’t go to the grocery stores because of COVID. It’s worrisome,” said McNeely.

Since Jan. 2020, The Food Bank has seen a dramatic increase in need – 328 percent increase in the number of households and 282 percent increase in the number of individuals served.  The coronavirus pandemic, California wildfires and PG&E power outages created a perfect storm of joblessness, houselessness and food insecurity in 2020. But McNeely remains hopeful that with community support, families will get through the winter.

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