BRATTLEBORO >> The Project Feed the Thousands Campaign recently kicked off its 21st annual food drive.
The launch took place at Brattleboro's Price Chopper Supermarket on Canal Street last Friday, Nov. 13, with a live broadcast hosted by long-time media supporter, WTSA 96.7 FM, and was followed up by an afternoon launch at Brattleboro Food Co-op in downtown Brattleboro, hosted by another media supporter, WYRY 104.9 FM.
"The community goal this year is to raise $100,000 in cash, as well as to collect enough provisions for 200,000 meals," said Jeff Morse, project co-chairman and president of River Valley Credit Union. Various businesses and individuals, in conjunction with Project Feed, will be accepting non-perishable food, personal care items and cash donations. All campaign contributions will then be distributed to many area food shelves to help thousands of people who struggle with hunger throughout southeastern Vermont and southwestern New Hampshire.
"Project Feed is this region's largest community food drive," said project co-chairwoman and owner of WTSA Radio, Kelli Corbeil, "but even with a growing list of corporate donors, participating schools, and individual donations large and small, achieving our goal again this year will be challenging."
"This cash and food drive is imperative to our community food shelves, we rely on it," said Lucie Fortier, of Groundworks Collaborative. "All of the food shelves in our region are struggling and when the cold season comes, the need is enormous. We could not possibly feed all the individuals we see if it wasn't for the Project Feed Campaign."
Project Feed was started in 1994 by Larry Smith, then of WTSA Radio, and George Haynes, formerly president of Brattleboro Savings & Loan. Co-founding the campaign, Smith and Haynes emphasized the importance of helping less fortunate families in the community. To achieve this goal, they enlisted neighbors and friends to start a food drive specifically designed to alleviate hunger in Brattleboro and surrounding towns. At that time, the goal was to fill a single tractor trailer with food, feeding an estimated 1,000 local individuals in need.
In its 21-year history since then, the Project Feed Campaign has grown in both size and scope. As a result of this growth, the campaign now includes all of Windham County, as well as southwestern New Hampshire. Not only has Project Feed raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase and distribute food and personal care items, but it has also filled hundreds of truckloads of actual food to be distributed to the area food shelves.
This campaign has nourished countless individuals and families with food and supplies to alleviate the most basic human need of having enough food to put on the table for each meal. The food and supplies distributed through this campaign include cereal, juices, peanut butter, canned foods, soups, crackers and many other non perishable foods, as well as personal hygiene items such shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes and soap. Supporters say Project Feed has built awareness of how our neighbors and friends, including many families with children, struggle with hunger issues in the community.
"The campaign has been a valuable educational tool in teaching school-aged children about the meaning of compassion and caring for others," said Mark Speno, the principal of Green Street Elementary School. "In doing so, Project Feed has shown children, teens, young adults and the rest of the community how to take action in the struggle to end hunger."
Monetary contributions may be sent to: Project Feed, c/o River Valley Credit Union, P.O. Box 8366, 820 Putney Rd., Brattleboro, VT 05304.
Non-perishable food and personal care items may be donated at the Brattleboro Food Co-op, Brattleboro's Hannaford and Price Chopper locations, Walmart in Hinsdale, N.H., Riverbend Market in Townshend, at all River Valley Credit Union locations and all Brattleboro, Vernon and Guilford schools as well as many local businesses. For a complete list of locations, visit Feedthethousands.org. Visit feedthethousands.org for upcoming events.