Editor's note: This is part two of a two-part series that focuses on how Jane Garafolo's "Blue Bag-it" program is going and a timeline on when it will become a permanent fixture at Shaw's. Part one, "'Blue Bag' Food Collection Program at Shaw's Supports the Medfield Food Cupboard," took a look at Garafolo's program and donating items to the Medfield Food Cupboard. To read part one, click here.
Four months ago Jane Garofalo’s “Blue Bag-it” program was launched as a permanent fixture at Shaw’s and it has been well received by the Medfield community.
The Medfield Food Cupboard has seen more consistent donations and a better quality of food being donated since this program began and Shaw’s will soon be putting up a second “Blue Bag-it” display, blue bags and most-needed items lists for customers that use the entrance near the service desk.
The Blue Bag-it program is an easy way for Shaw's customers to support the Medfield Food Cupboard by simply grabbing a blue bag, a list of most needed food items and purchasing some of those items while they do their own shopping. Purchased items in the blue bags are then placed in the food collection bins at the Shaw's exits.
On a snowy day in early March, Medfield Food Cupboard President Beth Eby, Vice President Caren McElhenny, Department coordinators of distribution Jeanne Sullivan and Carol Bergenheim and many other volunteers were working hard to get the "grocery store" area ready for their clients on this distribution day.
Garofalo was one of the volunteers at the Food Cupboard that day and the filled blue bags from Shaw's were there to be distributed. She, along with other youth volunteers, fulfill many of the tasks needed in order to ensure a successful distribution day.
Volunteers pick up the blue bags in the Food Cupboard bins at Shaw's two times a week and the donations are stored in the designated basement area of the United Church of Christ on Main Street.
In addition to the Blue Bag donations, fresh breads are donated by Blue Moon Bagel Cafe, Honey's and Shaw's. Meats purchased from both Roche Bros and Shaw's are frozen and stored at the Food Cupboard until distribution day. Produce is offered, seasonally donated by Powisset Farms located in Dover and Dover resident, Henry Faulkner, donates fresh eggs.
The Medfield Food Cupboard has many behind the scene volunteers such as "shelvers," "packers," "luggers" and more. Shelvers check expiration dates, sort and shelve the items. Packers pack the bins of food to be carried up to the distribution center, making sure there are adequate quantities and food selections. Luggers carry the heavy bins of food up the stairs on distribution day mornings and the set-up crew create the "grocery store" atmosphere for the clients.
The Blue Bag-it program has proven itself in only a few months.
"I would have to say that at least half the food that comes in from Shaw's is in the blue bags. This also means the food is from our most needed items which is wonderful," said McElhenny.
Garofalo is dedicated to the program she created. Weekly, she checks on the quantity of the blue bags and lists at Shaw's and updates the lists monthly after being given the most needed items update from Eby or McElhenny.
"This project has been a great experience and very rewarding. I especially enjoy seeing the food bins filled with lots of blue bags and appreciated being invited to the Board of Directors meeting last fall to present the positive results. I would love to help expand this project into more communities, either through other food cupboards or encouraging teens to introduce the project at their own supermarket," said Garofalo.
Eby has nothing but high praise for Garofalo.
"This young lady is compassionate, has an understanding of the situation at the Food Cupboard and when donations were down she found a way to help and came up with this program," Eby said. "She pays close attention to details and persevered. I am very proud of her accomplishments."
On Sunday, March 18, Garofalo will receive the Youth Volunteer of the Year award from the Medfield Foundation, Inc. for her work with the Medfield Food Cupboard and its "Blue Bag-it" program.