November 2, 2021 by By Cathy Stack
A small volunteer convoy of three trucks arrived to pick up the farm’s surplus crops, and a local businesswoman offered to donate crates to box the crops. After picking up the food, George and his small team of volunteers sorted, cleaned, bagged, boxed and distributed the produce to multiple local food banks and hundreds of individual families.
Thanks to the generosity of farmers, George’s small team of volunteers moved about 20,000 pounds of crops that first week. By the second week, it increased exponentially to 60,000 pounds. By the fourth week, the group was moving 200,000 pounds. George’s brainstorm had taken on a life of its own. He unintentionally created a movement that connected farmers’ surplus to community food banks and meal programs.
“I knew the food was there, and I knew the hunger was there, and it was just connecting those dots,” George explained.
George knew he had to find a way to continue the mission he’d started. That was when he decided to start a volunteer-led nonprofit that he named EastWest Food Rescue. The nonprofit’s goal is to support the farming community in Eastern Washington while simultaneously helping families or individuals who are experiencing the hardship of food insecurity in Western Washington. Community members’ donations of essential resources helped make his nonprofit vision a reality.
Struggling families credit the nonprofit with helping them keep up with their mortgage payments. Thanks to EastWest Food Rescue, families do not have to choose between putting food on the table or paying household bills.
George understands how hard the farmers work, and he strived to find a way to compensate farmers who participate in the program. Now, his nonprofit accepts monetary donations, which in turn go to help pay the farmers at least their cost of food. Farmers typically receive anywhere from 5 cents to 10 cents a pound.
EastWest Food Rescue coordinates every step of the logistical process, from finding new sources of surplus food to organizing transportation to ensuring the produce is distributed at no cost to those in need. To date, the organization has moved more than 54.8 million pounds of crops and served around 44 million meals. EastWest Food Rescue has expanded and now has hundreds of volunteers and coordinates food deliveries beyond Washington.
“If we just came together, if we just worked together, there is so much we can do together,” George said passionately.
PassItOn and The Foundation For A Better Life believe that George Ahearn is a true hero for his dedicated service helping others. He has relieved the financial hardship of numerous families. George and his caring team of volunteers demonstrate the value of pulling together. He has shown us all the magic that happens and the good that comes to the world when we work together. George’s message to those who want to improve their community is simple: “Match your passion with action and get involved.” Please help us honor George by sharing his inspiring story.
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