Thurston County Food Project

The Thurston County Food Project is a revolutionary way to collect food: It’s a donor drive, not a food drive

You want to help – we make it easy! 

The Food Project is a revolutionary way to collect food: It’s a donor drive, not a food drive. Instead of asking for one-time contributions of food, our volunteers (Neighborhood Coordinators) enlist their neighbors to become long-term Food Donors.

What We Do

Neighbors donate a bag of food every two months. It’s incredibly easy, because we supply the bag and we pick up the food! This provides the Thurston County Food Bank with a steady, year-round supply of food and provides donors with the ongoing satisfaction of making a real difference. They also get to know their neighbors, which builds a powerful sense of community. So everyone wins.

What’s the Result?

The Thurston County Food Project began in the Cain Road Neighborhood in Olympia in February 2010, and has since expanded to several other Thurston County neighborhoods, including Bigelow, Boston Harbor, Carlyon North, Eastside, Sugarloaf, and Wildwood in Olympia, and Edgewater, in Lacey. The concept originated in Ashland, Oregon in 2009 with amazing success (there are now many Food Projects throughout the United States!).

As of February 2016, the Thurston County Food Project has collected over $180,000 of food, food of the quality we would share with a neighbor. We are also getting to know our neighbors!

20160611_104009 Green Bags

How the Food Project Works

It’s a remarkably simple system, built around two main types of volunteers:

Food Donors are neighbors who agree to give food every two months.

Become a Food Donor – learn more & sign-up to give

Neighborhood Coordinators (NCs) agree to organize a small group of their neighbors to become Food Donors. Their job generally takes a few hours every couple of months.

Become a Neighborhood Coordinator – learn more & sign-up to collect

When is Pickup Day?

Our “official” pickup day is the 2nd Saturday of each even month (February, April, June, August, October, December). But the Food Project is set up to give NCs as much freedom as possible. If they’ll be out of town on the official pickup day, or prefer to do it the week before or after, they can come up with their own date and work that out with their Food Donors.

What happens on Pickup Day?

Each Food Donor puts the bag of food out by his or her front door. NCs pick up each bag, leave an empty one.

They take the food to Pioneer Elementary School, where it is boxed and loaded onto the Food Bank truck. The food is then taken to the Thurston County Food Bank.

We get a total box count for the entire pickup (Food Bank has determined value per box), we let NCs know the results, so they can let their Food Donors know how much of an impact the Food Project, and their work, is having. This communication helps the Food Donors realize the value of their contributions.