Helping Our Heroes Campaign

As we navigate these challenging times, more and more we are taking to heart Cooperative Principle Seven, “Concern for Community.” Paying it forward with kindness and respect can go a long way in someone’s day and brings a little light into our world. That’s why we want to honor and help our local heroes – those folks working tirelessly on the frontlines during COVID-19.

Every week, the Co-op will donate food and supplies to members of our community who are going the extra mile, working every day despite shelter in place orders. Like our BriarPatch employees, these folks bring much-needed comfort to others in trying times. They are keeping neighborhoods safe, gathering news and information we need, distributing food, providing transportation and shelter and medical care. We are grateful for these heroes and ask you to join us in recognizing them!

We’d love to hear more about all the good happening in our community. Please send us your stories or suggestions for local heroes who deserve a little comfort in return, by emailing:

In Gratitude,

The Co-op Marketing Team


June 17, 2020 

On Thursday, the crew from the Co-op’s Marketing Department helped out with drive-thru food distribution at Seventh Day Adventist Church organized by Food Bank of Nevada County.

Since the COVID-19 shelter-in-place-orders were issued in March, needs for food have quadrupled at the Food Bank, organizers say.

“We are still seeing a high number of families come through our line each week. We are averaging about 1900 individuals served at our Grass Valley Location, 600 individuals in Truckee and about 600 people being feed in North San Juan,” said Executive Director Nicole McNeely.

This summer, the Food Bank will distribute free lunches to children at area libraries and apartment complexes. A new partnership with FREED Center for Independent Living will provide assistance with food packing and grocery deliver to people with disabilities and seniors who need to shelter-in place.

Monetary donations and volunteers are always needed. Lightweight face masks for summer are also needed.

“We have so many opportunities for folks to lend a hand – – drivers, packers & distribution helpers.”

You can become a volunteer through the PatchWorks program. Learn more:

#community #lovelocal

June 12, 2020

BriarPatch donates $8,000 to Nevada County Relief Fund in effort to support local nonprofits

Grass Valley – BriarPatch Food Co-op donated $8,000 to the Nevada County Relief Fund, earmarking the funds for Western Nevada County nonprofits struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Nevada County Relief Fund was created through a partnership between the County of Nevada, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation (SNMH Foundation), Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF), and the Sierra Business Council (SBC) in consultation with the Center for Nonprofit Leadership (CNL) and the Economic Resource Council (ERC).

The BriarPatch donation represented a portion of the Co-op’s profits earned in mid-March, a time when customers filled their shopping baskets at unprecedented levels in response to news of the pandemic and the looming shelter-in-place order.

“We operate under a set of cooperative principles that guide us to support our local community, especially in times of need,” said Andrea Echegaray BriarPatch Finance Manager. “So, it made sense for us to contribute to this important county-wide effort.”

BriarPatch has a long history of supporting local nonprofit groups through programs like the Co-op CAUSE (a campaign that allows shoppers to round up at the register for local nonprofits) and Patchworks (mobilizing customers to volunteer for local nonprofits). In 2019, shoppers donated $65,531 from the CAUSE program and BriarPatch donated an additional $167,554 to the community, which represented more than 10 percent of the store’s total operating profit.

To date, the Nevada County Relief Fund has raised $331,000 and distributed $210,000 in small micro-grants to eight safety net nonprofits and 28 small businesses.

“We’re just touched to be part of the first round,” said Naomi Cabral, Development Director for Interfaith Food Ministry, a group that improves food security for the region’s most vulnerable residents.

The Relief Fund received 175 applications from small businesses for its micro-grants of up to $5,000 each, and nearly two dozen applications for the “safety-net” grants ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 each. The combined requests totaled over $1,175,000, nearly six times more than the Relief Fund’s Community Advisory Council had available to award. Applications will open for the next round in the coming week.

Last week, Nevada County saw a 30 percent increase in COVID-19 confirmed case count and neighboring counties are seeing sharp increases as well. Despite the uptick in cases, Nevada County is now entering Stage 3 of re-opening, and a sense of optimism is emerging. But it remains to be seen what long-term impacts Covid-19 will have on the local economy.

“Yes, it is certainly good to see doors opening, but there is still a tremendous financial impact. We won’t go from being completely shut down to fully at capacity for months, perhaps even a year. It is important for our community to both be safe and take care of each other. It’s a complete ecosystem. As long as we focus on solidarity, we’ll come out stronger,” said Cristine Kelly, Chair of Marketing and Communications for Nevada County Relief Fund.

Learn more:


June 8, 2020

BriarPatch donates organic apples to Emily’s Catering & Cakes Free Friday Lunch Program

Since March, Emily Scott-Arbaugh and her husband and business partner John have been providing free lunches to area school kids and their families, no questions asked. 

“We’re hooking everyone up. There’s a need. It’s so touching to give back” 

Last week, BriarPatch Food Co-op donated 125 organic Fuji apples to the Free Lunch Fridays program, a drive-thru service hosted by Emily’s Catering & Cakes. 

For years, the husband and wife team had provided lunches to Yuba River Charter School as a passion project, Earlier this year, the couple decided to let go of their contract with the school in order to focus on weekend events like weddings. Then COVID-19 hit.

“John’s first thought was, ‘what about the kids?,’ said Emily. 

They did the math and could afford to donate $1,200 to provide simple bag lunches for local families. Soon, when the community caught wind of the project, donations began pouring in. This funding helped to take the lunches to the next level – from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to bean, rice and chicken burritos. Community contributions also helped keep the program going through the end of the school year. 

“We didn’t expect anything. People have really stepped up,” said Emily. 

What’s next? With the future still uncertain for events, Emily is talking with folks like Ana Acton from FREED – Center for Independent Living to participate in Great Plates Delivered – a program funded by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to bring meals to homebound seniors while supporting restaurants and food providers during the pandemic. 

In addition to the lunches for kids, Emily’s Catering has a Cookies for a Cause program that each month raises money for local nonprofits and organizations in need, like Center for the Arts and Off Broad Street Theatre.

Week by week, Emily and John are gauging the need for the lunch program and for now plan to keep the lunches going through June. 

“We’re getting calls from people who are so thankful for these meals. People really do appreciate them.” 

Learn more about Emily’s Catering:


May 20, 2020

BriarPatch recognizes FREED staff and volunteers as local heroes

Months ago, when the Governor set the shelter in place order, the staff and volunteers of FREED Center for Independent Living quickly saw a dire need arise in the most at-risk sector of the community.  

“We basically realized there was a gap in services for home deliveries,” said Executive Director Ana Acton. FREED’s Mission is to eliminate barriers to full equality for aging populations and people with disabilities through programs which promote independent living, while honoring dignity and selfdetermination.  

On Tuesday, BriarPatch donated 20 gift cards to FREED volunteers, acknowledging them for their hard work packing and distributing groceries to homebound people considered at risk of COVID-19 throughout Western Nevada County.  

Half of FREED’s staff are considered at-risk. Volunteers have stepped up working harder than ever to keep up with client’s basic needs for food, shelter and independence. Almost all of FREED clients qualify for food assistance.  

When the shelter in place order was issued, a program was quickly set up to bring weekly groceries to 60-70 homebound seniors, people with disabilities and younger populations with underlying health conditions. Now FREED is partnering with The County of Nevada, 211-Connecting Point, Gold Country Community Services, Food Bank of Nevada County, Interfaith Food Ministry and others to meet the need for grocery delivery.  

This will allow FREED to focus on other needs like mental health support and rental assistance to prevent eviction and homelessness. Another big issue uncovered by the pandemic is the need for resources that will help homebound folks bridge the digital divide like access to broadband or tech assistance. With wildfire season right around the corner, the agency is also preparing for another PSPS event and looking for volunteers to help deploy solar setups and batteries to individuals for charging power wheelchairs, oxygen and CPAP machines. 

Ana continues to advocate at the state level and is concerned that proposed state budget cuts to independent living centers like FREED will negatively impact her organization next year. 

“This is going to be an ongoing situation for people at risk, like me,” said Ana. 

Volunteers and donations are always a good way to help. Learn more at 


BriarPatch donates $1,000 of organic produce to Food Bank of Nevada County 

On Monday, Food Bank of Nevada County arrived at BriarPatch to pick up a donation of 39 cases of organic produce valued at $1,000 for food distribution in North San Juan, Grass Valley and to homebound seniors and people with disabilities.  

“The love is getting spread and shared,” said Nicole McNeely, Executive Director of The Food Bank of Nevada County. 

On Tuesday, the Food Bank teamed up with county employees to distribute food to as many as 1000 individuals in North San Juan. The BriarPatch donation helps supplement groceries for folks living in rural “Ridge” and outlying communities such as Penn Valley, Pike, Alleghany, French Corral, Camptonville and Sierra City. Normally this time of year, the Food Bank distributes to 400-600 individuals at that location.  

“There is a huge need up there. There are a lot of seniors and people who don’t have good running vehicles to get to town,” said McNeely. 

The donation included slicing cucumbers, mini seedless watermelon, cantaloupe, carrots, Valencia oranges, Fuji apples, celery, yellow onions, cauliflower and zucchini. 

“They haven’t been getting enough produce. This will be perfect for them,” said Facilities Manager Bob Dion.  

Food donations like this are important right now.

The Food Bank can no longer take donations from individuals because of the risks of contamination. Other resources, like a postal food drive that typically brings in 15,000 pounds of food, has been postponed. Meanwhile, the community’s need for assistance is at an all-time high. For the past two months, the Food Bank has been feeding an average of 2,000 people a week. Before the pandemic, they were feeding 2,000 people per month.  

“It’s quadrupled,” said Rita Dolphin, Volunteer Coordinator. Many of the people receiving food are “first-timers” to the Food Bank. The Food Bank distributes to communities like Grass Valley, North San Juan and the Little Town of Washington.  

The Food Bank is working with FREED Center for Independent Living to make deliveries to individuals in high-risk groups like elderly clients and people with disabilities who are homebound and sheltering in place during the pandemic.   

“We have so many clients who need delivery right now,” said McNeely. 

Last week, BriarPatch donated store gift cards to the volunteers who are working hard to keep up with those numbers.  

 “I think they are getting tired. It’s a huge ask,” said McNeely. The Food Bank is starting to see a shortage of volunteers and is in need of more help for grocery packing, its regular distribution days in Grass Valley, drivers for homebound clients and its summer lunch program for children.  

 “We all have to work together to get through this,” said McNeely. 

Become a  volunteer. BriarPatch owners who volunteer through the Co-op’s PatchWorks volunteer program receive 15% off a shopping trip for volunteering six hours of time per month.


May 14, 2020

We think local journalists are our community heroes!

Let’s hear it for our news heroes at KVMR 89.5FM & 105.1FM​! ❤️

Volunteer Broadcaster Joyce Miller had a 20 year career in newspapers including 9 as an editor for the LA Times. Joyce has been filing in-depth reports and interviews on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, covering the economic impacts and state orders and recovery plans during this time.

KVMR’s Keith Porter was already doing stellar interviews for the public affairs program Sages Among Us and is on KVMR’s Emergency response team. During COVID-19, Keith’s beat is the impacts on local non-profits during this crisis.

Claudio Mendonca has produced interviews and new features for KVMR as well as engineering the popular program Higher Frequency on KVMR. Claudio covered mental health and homelessness during the COVID-19.

Steve Baker has been “the voice” of KVMR during every emergency for the last 22 years as KVMR’s Program Director. In June, Steve is moving into a new position as KVMR’s news host and reporter.

Charlotte Peterson is a regular member of the KVMR evening news team with Paul Emery and Felton Pruitt, but during the pandemic she stepped up to be the headline reporter covering Education issues during COVID-19.

General Manager Ali Lightfoot has a 10 year background in radio journalism as a host and reporter. Ali has covered healthcare during the pandemic, conducting regular interviews with Dr Brian Evans, CEO of Sierra Nevada Memorial.

Check out this video with The Union Newspaper’s Editor Brian Hamilton as he shares his story of what it’s been like to work remotely for several months during the pandemic, continuing to cover the stories that matter to the community while faced with the challenge of slow WIFI and declining funding streams.

This week, we donated gift cards to volunteers of Food Bank of Nevada County in honor of local journalists from The Union, YubaNet, KVMR 89.5FM & 105.1FM and KNCO Newstalk 830. We appreciate you!!! Keep up the good work.

We ask the community to support these news sources with membership and subscriptions. Are you a Co-op Owner? You can get a discount on a one-year subscription to The Union! See how at the end of this video.


May 12, 2020

This week, in honor of local journalists we donated 11 BriarPatch gift cards to volunteers at Food Bank of Nevada County!

Reporters asked that we donate to a local cause and the volunteers feeding our community deserve a treat! They are all community heroes in our book!

It’s been a hard pull for the 44 volunteers at the Food Bank who have been packing an average of 2,000 bags of groceries every week. They are feeding quadruple the number of people they were before the Coronavirus hit Nevada County.

“I think they are getting tired. It’s a huge ask,” said Nicole McNeely, Executive Director for the Food Bank of Nevada County. “I feel so grateful for these gift cards. I know the volunteers are working so hard and deserve recognition.”


May 7, 2020

BriarPatch donates to county employees helping those impacted by COVID-19 

Nevada County employees working hard to help those struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic received a well-deserved break this week when BriarPatch staff stopped by with lunch 

Since the pandemic hit, most of the 90 employees in the county’s Social Services Department have transitioned to teleworking, while caseloads are growing.  

The past couple of months we have seen applications for most programs significantly increase. We anticipate significant caseload increases particularly with Medi-Cal and Cal Fresh. Projections show our Medi-Cal caseloads rising from about 13,000 to 16,000 and Cal Fresh caseload increasing from about 5,000 to 6,500,” said Tamaran Cook, Nevada County Eligibility and Employment Program Manager and Public Guardian. 

Social Services handles Eligibility and Employment Services, Veterans Services, Housing, Child Support Services, Child Welfare and Adult Services. 

“We want the community to get the benefits and support that they need as soon as possible,” said Cook.  

People seeking assistance are a mix of those who have lost their jobs and others who have seen their hours reduced because of the Coronavirus. Accessing food and food benefits are the biggest need county staff are seeing in the programs that they administer.  

Tamaran says it is too early to know the full impacts and she remains hopeful. 

“I think we are months out from seeing how this may permanently affect the market... Our community is amazing, and I continue to see individuals and organizations pull together to provide support. 

Folks who have lost their jobs and need assistance, can apply for benefits using or contact the department at (530) 265-1340. Paper applications are available for pickup outside at the Brighton Greens and Rood Center locations. 


May 5, 2020

BriarPatch donates lunch to SPIRIT Peer Empowerment Center

On a recent spring day, BriarPatch donated 35 lunches to staff and community members at SPIRIT Peer Empowerment Center.  

The comfortable mental health recovery day center that feels like home on five sprawling grassy acres is entirely peer-run. The donated sack lunches filled with healthy deli-made sandwiches, fruit, sparkling beverages and bakery-fresh cookies helped the center supplement its food pantry.

“Our staff and participants very much enjoyed and appreciated the lunch. It was nice having fresh food. Those cookies were right out of the oven,” said Executive Director Pauline Abrons.

The center serves anyone struggling with a mental health issue – like substance abuse or homelessness – who wants to make positive changes in their life. 

COVID-19 Impacts

“We lost more than half of our staff and volunteers. They were either in the high risk category or the people that they lived with were in high risk,” said Abrons, adding that now interns are working to help fill the gaps. 

Everyone is diligently making and wearing masks, keeping a distance and washing hands. To date, no illnesses have been reported. 

In the past, the center served upwards of 40 people per day, but since COVID-19, the numbers have dropped to 10-20 people per day. 

“A lot of our participants are staying at home. I think people are trying to be safe and responsible and stay home. But we do have people who really need social contact for mental wellness,” said Abrons. 

While the numbers the center serves are down, the percentage of participants with homelessness has grown during the pandemic. 

“Those folks don’t have a place to be,” said Abrons. 

Peers on staff offer one-on-one counseling to individuals and host a variety of support groups including Diagnosis with Dignity, Co-Occurring, Women’s group, Men’s group, and Identity Diversity (LGBTQ+). 

The group aims to create pathways toward connection and creativity in a way that meets each individual’s interests and stage of growth. They play board games, puzzles and planned activities like music, beading, yoga or tend the organic garden.

Besides basic needs like food, showers and laundry facilities, the center offers  life skills and wellness classes, helps with referrals to other agencies and offers access to public computers for housing and job searches. 

Learn more:

Do you want to help?

Donations of the following will help people meet their basic needs:

  • Socks
  • Underwear/ boxers
  • Razors
  • Dixie cups (to give shampoo/ conditioner/ toothpaste in at the center)
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Food like nourishing frozen dinners and canned soups. Expired food cannot be accepted. 


April 24, 2020

BriarPatch donates nearly 400 pounds of fresh produce to North State Food Bank

On Wednesday, BriarPatch Food Co-op donated 368 pounds of fresh organic produce valued at $330 to Oroville-based North State Food Bank (NSFB) for distribution to people living in Northern California impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We serve roughly 6,700 individuals or 3,000 households monthly. We have 45 sites we deliver to and we serve five counties in the North Sate which include Butte, Colusa, Plumas, Glenn and Sierra,” said Program Manager Lee Wells.

Currently the Food Bank does not have enough food to meet demand.

“We are seeing approximately double the demand that was experienced after the Camp Fire,” said Wells.

The Co-op’s Produce Department gathered a pallet heaped with boxes and bags of yellow onions, celery, carrots, gold potatoes, fuji apples and Murcott mandarins that will be distributed directly to households in need, supplementing emergency food the Food Bank is already providing.

“Fresh organic produce is vital, as most of our available resources are shelf-stable items. Quality produce, such as the offering from BriarPatch is important because those in need deserve to have wholesome, healthy food,” said Wells.

In neighboring Sierra County, NSFB delivers monthly to rural mountain communities of Alleghany, Pike and Downieville. The extra food they are sending during the pandemic has become a vital lifeline.

“These communities are remote and somewhat isolated from the services readily available to households in the more populated areas,” said Wells.

If people wish to help, they can make food or monetary donations or become a volunteer.

Learn more:


April 17, 2020

BriarPatch deli makes lunch for 211 Connecting Point staff working from home

On Wednesday, BriarPatch delivered deli lunches to staff members and call specialists from 211 Connecting Point who are working from home keeping the county informed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The public agency is a call and resource center that provides the community with programs and services that promote health and independence. Though they are working from home, they are busier than ever during the pandemic.

Since March 1, Community Heroes from Connecting Point have answered over 3,500 calls, for a total of 642 hours, nearly double their call volume.

“211’s role is to provide accurate, up-to-date information and to connect individuals to community resources,” said Communications Manager Heather Heckler. “For most of our callers, that means connecting them to resources for healthcare, housing, food, and other basic needs. For some, however, a 211 call specialist may be the only person they speak with in a day and a trusted resource for information. We are honored to serve as Nevada County’s community call center, whether it’s during this pandemic or in normal times.”

The agency has been an important resource for information from the state and county on the Stay at Home Order; quarantine and isolation guidance for cloth face masks, mental health resources and more.

You can speak to a local call specialist 24/7 by dialing 2-1-1 (or 1-833-DIAL211) or find resources online at

Go to the COVID-19 page for resources specific to the pandemic:

Folks can also subscribe to COVID-19 text updates from 211 by texting NCCORONA to 797979.

You can support 211’s mission and contribute online here:





April 8, 2020

BriarPatch donates two-week supply of pet food to Sammie’s Friends

Grass Valley – BriarPatch Food Co-op donated a two-week supply of pet food to Sammie’s Friends, to support the community heroes who have stepped up to foster shelter dogs and cats awaiting adoption in Nevada County.

On Wednesday, BriarPatch donated the organic cat and dog food valued at $400 wholesale to the animal shelter located on McCourtney Drive. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Sammie’s Friends, a non-profit corporation, has had to cut back to a skeleton crew of staff workers and no volunteers. Usually, the shelter relies on hundreds of volunteers to operate each month.

“It’s just not safe. Our limited staff are providing all the care for our shelter animals right now (including two daily walks for the dogs),” said Dina Jacopi, Marketing Director.

Some staff members are choosing to use sick time during the “stay at home” directive or finding ways to work from home.

At least 40 dogs and 50 cats need “forever homes” and kitten season is right around the corner – which adds an estimated 400 kittens to the mix. Of the animals that need adoption now, most have found temporary foster families to care for them during the pandemic.

Sammie’s typically goes through 18 cans of wet dog food per day and 48 cans of wet cat food. Animals at the shelter and with foster families can eat through two to three 40-pound bags of dry dog and cat kibble every week. Adoptions are still taking place, and now every step can be done digitally, said Lizette Taylor, Shelter Director.

Due to the coronavirus, Sammie’s Nifty Thrift Shop, the biggest source of income for the shelter, has been closed for four weeks. The shelter continues to need monetary donations, canned food, more homemade face masks and isolation gowns. Shelter staff foresee a need for volunteers and more foster families in coming months when the trickle-down effects of a depressed economy begin to translate to an increase in abandoned animal populations.

“We are anticipating needing many more foster homes. Once we all truly feel the effects and stress of what is happening, a lot more people will be needing to turn their pets into the shelter,” said Dina.

Learn more about how to help:


April 7, 2020

Donations to Food Bank of Nevada County come at a critical time

Grass Valley – Shoppers at BriarPatch Food Co-op continue to fill the blue barrel located inside the store with donations for Food Bank of Nevada County.

This week, Co-op staff emptied the overflowing barrel, sanitized the outside of the shelf-stable packaged goods, boxed them up and donated the haul to the Food Bank. The donation comes at a time when the Food Bank is seeing a record-breaking need by people in the community who have lost their jobs or have seen a huge reduction in pay, or can’t find childcare for their children who are now home from school.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Food Bank went from serving 400 individuals and 250 households to now serving 1800 individuals and almost 600 households on their first day of the new drive-thru service. This week, seven volunteers prepared 950 bags for Thursday’s drive-thru.

“Our need is increasing exponentially. It’s staggering to even meet the need,” said Executive Director Nicole McNeely.

The Food Bank warehouse crew is working round the clock and has had to ration the bags because with the increased need they are limited by the amount they can give right now.

“It’s so many more than what we are used to seeing. This is record-breaking for us. We’re one of the first resources people hear about when they’re in need of dietary support,” said McNeely.

The Food Bank distributes food every Thursday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Grass Valley Seventh Day Adventist Church, 12889 Osborn Hill Road, Grass Valley, near Union Hill School. Folks who need help will get food.

“We don’t want anyone to go without,” said McNeely.

Right now, the Food Bank is not taking food donations from the public. They are only taking food donations from grocery stores and distributors. Monetary donations are greatly appreciated and can be made online, at:


April 3, 2020

BriarPatch Meat Department donates 300 pounds of chicken to Hospitality House

On Thursday morning, Chef Chris Fagen took a break from his busy day cooking lunch for shelter guests at Hospitality House-Community Shelter to have his photo taken with a whole organic chicken.

This week, BriarPatch donated 300 lbs (five cases) of whole chickens to Hospitality House to feed shelter guests and motel clients. ❤️ The chickens are Rocky and Rosie Chicken whole chickens from Petaluma Poultry. When a mistake by our distributor was credited but not picked up, our Meat Department decided to make a donation where it was needed. ❤️ “Hospitality House is grateful to have BriarPatch Food Co-op as one of its strategic partners. They do so much already for our shelter throughout the year, but this week, they surprised us with 300 lbs. of fresh, organic whole chickens. 300 POUNDS! Our operations have shifted significantly over the last several weeks to increase the safety of our staff, volunteers and guests. We’ve expanded into four locations, 24 hours a day, out of absolute necessity with an increased need for food support, so this gift comes at a much needed time to keep families, children and individuals all well fed and safe throughout the pandemic. Thank you, BriarPatch!,” said Ashley Quadros, Development Director.

#community #helpingourheroes


BriarPatch Deli donates lunch to Sierra Care Physicians

On Tuesday, we delivered a hot lunch of 25 BriarPatch deli burritos and coconut water to our Litton Drive neighbors, the medical team at Sierra Care Physicians.

Aren’t they doing a tremendous job of demonstrating social distancing? “We are SO THANKFUL and blessed by our community. From all of you at BriarPatch treating us to lunch, to our patients and community members donating all kinds of supplies, making masks to donate and most importantly your thanks and words of encouragement. We are so lucky to be part of such an amazing community!,” said Tammie Shust, Office Manager.

The medical office has been on the front lines during COVID-19 while continuing to serve their patients with other needs by offering phone calls and virtual visits. We think they are true heroes.

#briarpatch #community


March 24, 2020

BriarPatch and Earl’s donate 2,501 pounds of fresh produce to Interfaith Food Ministry

Grass Valley – In an effort to feed Western Nevada County’s hungry during COVID-19, BriarPatch Food Co-op and Earl’s Organic Produce teamed up to donate four pallets totaling 2,501 pounds of fresh produce to Interfaith Food Ministry (IFM).

“The Co-op has been a lifeline for so many people during this challenging time and we’re grateful we can support them. But we know there are community members really struggling right now. We wanted to give back to families who lost their jobs or are staying home with their kids without much to eat,” said BriarPatch Marketing Manager Rebecca Torpie.

“Earl’s Organic wants to do our part to help people in need during this time of health safety. We are happy to partner with our long-time customer BriarPatch Food Co-op to donate organic produce to IFM, an organization they support throughout the year,” said Susan Simitz Marketing and Social Media Manager for Earl’s Organic Produce.

Tuesday morning, a driver from Earl’s Organic Produce delivered more than a ton of asparagus, oranges, apples, sweet potatoes, Swiss Chard, kale, cilantro, parsley, Romaine lettuce, spring mix lettuce, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, tomato and mandarins valued at $2,000 to IFM. The organic produce will be added to bags of groceries to be distributed on Wednesday and Friday to meet a growing demand for fresh food from families experiencing food insecurity.

“This is really critical. That’s what people are short on,” said Bob Thurman, IFM Board President.

The food is supplemental for people living with limited means like limited refrigeration or storage space, people who can’t store food for long periods of time.

Currently, 14,000, or roughly one of seven Nevada County residents live in food insecure households. In 2019, IFM served 8069 individuals. With COVID-19, IFM is seeing a flush of new clients – people who have recently lost jobs and families struggling after the closure of schools throughout the county.

“We’ve noticed a three-fold increase of new clients. This seems to be a trend with people losing their jobs and being uncertain,” said Thurman.

At a time of greater need, IFM has lost half of its volunteers because many are over 65, seniors in high risk groups who are following state mandated stay at home orders in light of the pandemic.

Interfaith Food Ministry plans to continue its curbside/ drive through distribution days from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. IFM is also working with the Food Bank of Nevada County to identify where the gaps are.

“Everyone is coming together and helping,” said Thurman.

Food Supply Remains Strong

“Now more than ever, there is a need to provide people and their families with fresh healthy food during a time of economic and job uncertainty. Earl’s intention is to eliminate as much concern about one’s food supply as we are able,” said Simitz.

The donation comes at a time when national food supply chains have come under tremendous stress yet remain strong, vibrant and able to serve and be accountable in times of crisis, said Earl Herrick, Owner and Founder of Earl’s Organic Produce.

Earl’s partners with more than 300 sustainable growers to deliver a full line of organic produce to its customers – a mix of restaurants, natural food co-ops, independent retailers, regional grocery markets and national chain stores between Arcata and Monterey and a few select retailers scattered across the country and in Hawaii.

“The virus has challenged us to reflect on our responsibility to all we serve – providers, employees and their families and our customers,” said Herrick.

How to Help

For those that want to help and do more locally, it is “March Matching” an important fundraising month for IFM, a campaign that funds about one-third of the organization’s annual budget. With IFM’s buying power, every $1 donation goes far, as much as two to five times its value to purchase supplies that are needed.

“We’re getting more smaller donations. I think because of what’s happening, people are seeing the need.”

With seniors staying at home, more volunteers are needed from everything like on-the-ground pre-packaging Tuesday and Thursdays, distribution days on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and for those that prefer to stay home, there are admin tasks available.

Learn more:

Know & Go

Interfaith Food Ministry: Distributes food 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 440 Henderson St. in Grass Valley (to the left of the Prosperity Lanes Bowling Alley and the Beam Easy Living Center). For information, go to or call 530-273-8132

The amount of food provided depends on family size. Each family can come to one distribution every two weeks. New clients are asked to bring a photo ID and a proof of address. Clients who are making the decision to stay home due to high risk reasons can send a pick-up person to get their groceries for them, with a signed note