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Glean some time on Thursday mornings to assist Scottsdale’s Brown Bag Program

Brown Bag Gleaners Program - filled bags fill hallway

 

  July 10, 2013


  Contact: Tim Miluk, Human Services Manager, 480-312-1740, tmiluk@scottsdaleaz.gov



Glean some time on Thursday mornings to assist Scottsdale’s Brown Bag Program


It’s Thursday morning at the Granite Reef Senior Center and hundreds of brown paper bags line the hallway outside the office of Human Services Specialist Kristy Hahn-McDonald as part of the Scottsdale Brown Bag Gleaners Program. Inside, the bags are stocked with fresh vegetables, fruits, bread and other staples – enough perishables to provide nourishment to a needy senior or disabled individual for an entire week.


And the need is great. While the program has been in existence for more than 20 years, demand for Brown Bag services has not diminished. With the assistance of just a dozen or so volunteers and staff, Hahn-McDonald and her team assemble approximately 200 bags of groceries each week. The only exception is in August, when the group takes a much-needed, one month break.


“We used to take a two month break, but the need was so high, we scaled it back to one,” Hahn-McDonald said.


The program’s mix of volunteers ranges in age and ability, though many are seniors themselves. Some volunteer their services so that they can receive a bag of groceries for their efforts. While it’s an organized effort, Human Services Manager Tim Miluk acknowledged that the Brown Bag’s volunteers have not only aged, but their numbers have dwindled.


“We could really use some extra hands,” said Miluk. “We have great volunteers, but some of our volunteers are unable to safely assist with the physical tasks involved.”
 

Brown Bag days start early – with a senior center employee driving to St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix to pick up the week’s donated groceries. The food is loaded into a truck and taken to Vista del Camino Food Bank, where the Brown Bag volunteers are ready to unload, sort and distribute the items. The volunteers usually arrive at Vista at about 6:15 a.m. to set-up brown bags and prepare for the food truck’s arrival. It’s an efficient process, as the group is typically finished and ready to deliver bags to Granite Reef Senior Center by 8 a.m.


“It’s physical work – sometime you’re out in the cold, sometimes you’re out in the heat, but we try to make it as fun as possible,” Miluk said.


About 150 bags go straight to the Granite Reef Senior Center, where they are ready for pick-up after 8:30 a.m. The remaining bags are delivered to senior retirement communities throughout Scottsdale, serving as an invaluable resource to many older adults who have difficulty grocery shopping due to age, chronic health conditions and lack of transportation.


“There’s no doubt the participants who receive our services are in need of assistance,” said Hahn-McDonald.

If you can “glean” some time on Thursday mornings to assist the Brown Bag Program, give Kristy Hahn-McDonald a call at 480-312-1717. You’re guaranteed to meet some interesting new people and contribute to making someone’s day a little bit better.