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Yavapai Food Neighbors Program expands into Chino

First Food Neighbors site exclusively supporting Chino Valley Backpack Program

The Yavapai Food Neighbors Project is expanding into Chino Valley with the first food collection set for 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 14, in the Safeway parking lot. (Danyah Aossey/Courtesy)

The Yavapai Food Neighbors Project is expanding into Chino Valley with the first food collection set for 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 14, in the Safeway parking lot. (Danyah Aossey/Courtesy)

The Yavapai Food Council’s Yavapai Food Neighbors Project is expanding into Chino Valley, according to Danyah Aossey, the project’s coordinator.

She said the Yavapai Food Council has been planning for some time to expand the food-donation project into Chino Valley, as one part of the council’s intention of growing the program throughout Yavapai County. Currently, the program is in Prescott, Prescott Valley, Sedona, Cottonwood, the Village of Oak Creek, and is also starting in Camp Verde in August, Aossey said.

“This is a program that can be exponentially grown,” she said. “Chino Valley is the next step. Prescott Valley really helped show us that we can launch a program within a rural area.”

The first food collection for the project in Chino Valley is set for 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 14, in the Safeway parking lot, 1031 Highway 89. All the collection events will be held there, Aossey said.

In the short term, coordinators and volunteers from the community are needed, people who are interested in getting involved and giving back, she said. The amount needed is unlimited, she said; the more the program has, the more food it will be able to share with those in need, Aossey said.

This will be the first Yavapai Food Neighbors site exclusively supporting the Chino Valley Backpack Program, which fills 250 backpacks each week for kids, she said.

“That’s 250 kids that get to eat over the weekend, and so we want to bring in as much food as possible,” she said. “Right now, they’re buying food straight out of the grocery store to be packing these. My goal is to get to a place where we are able to supplement 50 to 60 percent of the food they need. Where they’re not having to, as a nonprofit, go out and buy food at full retail.”

According to Aossey, one in three children in Yavapai County is routinely at risk of hunger and uncertain where their next meal will come from.

The program collects food every two months and its goal is to get the collection up to 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of food within the first year, Aossey said.

For more information about the Yavapai Food Council, Yavapai Food Neighbors Project, the Chino Valley Backpack Program and how to be a volunteer or a donor, visit the website http://yavapaifoodcouncil.org/emergency-food-programs/food-neighbors-project or call 928-254-8172.