Faith Martian places newly donated food in bags at Fitness Evolution, the communal pick-up point, in Arlington on Jan. 12. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Faith Martian places newly donated food in bags at Fitness Evolution, the communal pick-up point, in Arlington on Jan. 12. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

There’s an easier way to donate to food banks

Grab a green bag, fill it gradually with grocery items — and someone will pick it up from your home.

ARLINGTON — They have 1,500 bright green grocery bags and a mission to feed families in need.

Volunteers are launching a new program through the Arlington Community Food Bank that aims to make it convenient for people to donate nonperishable food.

Participants get a green bag and fill it with donations. Organizers suggest putting an item in the bag each time they go shopping for their own groceries. A volunteer driver will pick up the full bags at people’s doorsteps and leave new empty ones. The plan is to have pick-ups on the second Saturday of even months.

It’s called A Simple Gesture, and it already is in place at other local food banks. Arlington’s program, set to start in February, was inspired by Anacortes and Stanwood, said Faith Martian, who worked to launch A Simple Gesture here after volunteering at the food bank in the summer.

While she was at the food bank, a mom with three kids came in twice. The second time they were turned away because there wasn’t enough food. She left in tears, Martian said.

“I think that being able to do this program, we’ll never have to let that happen again,” she said. “That woman really broke my heart. I read about this program and thought, ‘This is something we need to do.’ ”

During the holiday season, people tend to give more to food banks, in part because food drives make it easy to donate at work, school or events. By giving people the option of donating from home and have someone else pick up and transport the food, the hope is that the food bank can remain stocked year-round, Martian said.

Volunteers did a trial run of A Simple Gesture on Jan. 12 with a pick-up at Fitness Evolution, 2517 172nd St. NE. The business volunteered to be a spot for those who would rather drop off their green bags than leave them on the stoop at home.

Manager Elizabeth Mehlbrech said the gym has members from Arlington, Marysville, Lakewood, Lake Goodwin and the Stanwood area. It’s one big community that needs to come together, she said.

“I think this is an absolutely incredible program,” Mehlbrech said. “There’s a huge need.”

Martian and Mehlbrech noted that the food bank especially needs healthy options. Suggestions include low-sodium soups, brown rice and granola bars.

“I know that healthier items tend to be more expensive, but I think it’s important that we think about those healthy snacks, too,” Mehlbrech said.

Donors and volunteer drivers are needed. To learn more or sign up, email asimplegesturearlington@gmail.com or call 360-545-3538.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com

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