Editor's note: This is part one in a two-part series that takes a look at Jane Garafolo's program and donating items to the Medfield Food Cupboard. Part two will focus on how the program is going and a timeline on when it will become a permanent fixture at Shaw's.
During this past summer, Jane Garafolo, a 17-year-old junior, had been setting up a table just outside of entrance every other week, handing out blue bags and lists of grocery items needed at the Medfield Food Cupboard.
Her hard work and her ground-breaking idea to help the Food Cupboard has been extraordinary and her "Blue Bag" program will soon grow and become a permanent fixture at Shaw’s.
Garafolo is an innovative teenager who came up with the “Blue Bag” program last spring. She recalls her mother mentioning that many times while shopping at Shaw’s, she would forget to purchase some items for the Food Cupboard and only after shopping, she would notice the Medfield Food Cupboard food collection bins. Garafolo remembered her mom saying she “needed a reminder as she entered the store.”
This got Garafolo thinking.
And she did more than just think, starting the “Blue Bag” program. Her idea is simple, yet genius. She realized if shoppers were reminded of the Food Cupboard and the need for food items and were given a special bag to put their donated items in, they would donate.
Garafalo contacted Beth Eby, president of the Medfield Food Cupboard about her idea.
“I’ve known Jane for some time," Eby said. "She was one of my former tennis students. She had been doing a bit of volunteering at the Cupboard and then came to me with this idea in hopes of increasing the supplies during the summer months.”
Shortly after speaking with Eby, she contacted Dan Leonard, the manager of the Medfield Shaw’s to ask his permission to set up outside and offer shoppers a bag and a list. Leonard completely supported the “Blue Bag” effort and praised Garafolo.
“Young people doing good work,” Leonard said.
She simultaneously wrote a letter to the New ‘N Towne board for funding. She was given the green light by Shaw’s and a $200 grant from New ‘N Towne to fund the cost of buying the bags. She wanted these bags to stand out from the normal plastic grocery bags, so she chose blue. Asked why she chose blue as the bag color, she said because it’s “Medfield blue.”
By the end of the summer, the bags arrived and Garafolo was in business. Since that time she has set up her table just about every other weekend outside of Shaw’s and spends approximately two hours giving out bags, along with a list of most needed items and explaining the program to Shaw’s shoppers.
Garafolo’s goal is to get Shaw’s shoppers familiar with the "Blue Bag" program and then have it become self-service. Leonard is in the process of getting a permanent rack to hold the blue bags and signage is in the works.
Once complete, this rack with bags and lists of most needed foods will be prominently located at Shaw’s main entrance for all shoppers to see and utilize.
Leonard also pointed out that Shaw’s is just beginning its holiday season Spirit Of Giving 2011 Food Drive, not to be confused with the "Blue Bag" program, but they both support the local Medfield Food Cupboard. He feels that having both programs right now “will be a win, win” for the Food Cupboard.
Stay tuned for part two of this series.