Published March 18, 2008
Volume 16, Number 3

April 26 Food Drive is Student-Run Community Service Project 

Going into its sixth year, the Tri-Valley’s annual Youth Food Drive is a well-managed community service event that might appear to run by itself—until you see the 1,000 volunteers, mostly local high school students, who each year sign on to help make the event a success. Every spring, this worthwhile project collects about 30,000 non-perishable items for the region’s food pantries before the summer slowdown in volunteer activity. Starting up again every fall, the campaign marches through a series of key steps with clockwork precision, thanks to the vision and legwork of  Scot Hasenpflug and Pej Estakhri, the two exceptional young men who turned the service project into a repeatable routine offering teen leadership opportunities when they officially established the  Youth Service Council in 2005.

The organization distinguishes itself by the fact that it is just about exclusively run by student volunteers. The only adult input comes from council director David Bahr, who had spent many years overseeing the food drive for a Livermore scout troop before leading the move to consolidate the multiple similar efforts criss-crossing the Tri-Valley. A critical piece of the strategy, Bahr recalls, was carving out the one date that would maximize the participation of the region’s numerous youth organizations without interfering with the plethora of other seasonal happenings, be it the Girl Scout cookie drive, Easter, or Earth Day. That turned out to be the last Saturday in April, which also avoids the pressures at the end of each high school year, giving food banks one last opportunity to stock their shelves before students leave on vacation.

Right now the focus is on distributing the door-hanger notices to squads of area teens, who will subsequently blanket 30,000 single-family residences in the seven associated communities (Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon, Danville, Sunol, and Alamo) with reminder requests for contributions. On the appointed day, which this year is Saturday, April 26th, they will return to the neighborhoods to pick up the bags of donated groceries and deliver them to one of six collection sites, for further distribution to the local recipient organizations.

With a 15-year history behind him, Bahr feels he has a pretty good handle on the amount of food this spring’s drive will generate. “Our flow charts tell us that we have a minimum of 26,000 homes covered, based on the ages of the students involved in the organization,” he explains. As an aside, he advises potential donors to select their contributions not just based on shelf life but also for their ease of preparation. “Recipients often have very limited cooking facilities, so something in a can that’s simple to prepare is really helpful,” he points out.

Food drive collections start at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 26, rain or shine. For a list of local food pantries served, along with other information about the organization, visit www.youthservicecouncil.org. To contact Bahr, email youthfooddrive@comcast.net or leave a message at (925) 998-6513.


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