What started as preparation for the 2018 Friday Harbor Film Festival has transformed into a community effort to offset hunger on the island.
All it could take is filling a green bag.
The local project, titled Feed the Island, aims to nourish San Juan people, pets and wild animals in care by providing reusable green bags for islanders to fill with food and donate locally.
The initiative started when Friday Harbor Film Festival Board members viewed the 16-minute documentary titled “Green Bag Solution.” The film was chosen for last October’s festival and viewers were inspired to bring the project to San Juan Island.
“I really felt like this would be a great way to connect our films and … our mission with our local community to try to fill a need,” said board member Melonie Walter.
The Friday Harbor Film Festival launched in 2013 with a mission, not only to entertain audiences by screening documentaries, but to inspire and enlighten viewers to create positive change.
The local project, which launched in November, does just that. Donations will be given to the Friday Harbor Food Bank, Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and the Animal Protection Society of Friday Harbor Pet Food Pantry.
Chipping in is easy, said Walter. Pick up a reusable green bag at the Friday Harbor Film Festival office on First Street any time the nonprofit is open, or at a kiosk outside the building. Then, add nonperishable items to bags. Once full, drop off bags at any participating organization, or the film festival office or outside kiosk. Scheduled delivery dates are on the third Saturday of every other month, resuming in January, but filled bags can be dropped off at any time. Reuse the bags to add more supplies and repeat.
Feed the Island is part of a larger movement called the Food Project, which has been replicated in roughly 50 U.S. communities, including Berkeley, Phoenix and Portland. According to www.neighborhoodfoodproject.com, millions of pounds of food have been donated across the nation through the Food Project.
At home, Friday Harbor Film Festival and Kings Market staff and volunteers are cosponsoring efforts. Kings staff bought and printed the green bags, according to Chandra Stone, film festival board member and executive director of Wolf Hollow. Stone is also compiling most-needed items at participating organizations, which will be listed on their websites.
Stone explained that the need for nourishment is crucial for both local people and animals.
“There is a need for all living things to have food,” said Stone. “A lot of times, if you can’t feed yourself, you can’t feed your pet either. There are all sorts of ways to look at what’s going on and meeting the needs.”
Scheduled delivery dates for the program run through 2019, but Walter said she hopes the bags could become a staple on the island, as well as a continuous reminder of those in need, both during the holidays and beyond.
“Food shortage … is … an issue brought up during the holidays,” she said, “but once Christmas and Thanksgiving are over, the idea of hunger sort of goes out of the public’s conciseness. We have these reusable bags so [participants] keep filling them and are remindful of what some of us have and some of us don’t.”
For more information, visit www.fhff.org/feed-the-island.
Watch “The Green Bag Solution” documentary below.