Project Feed the Thousands kicks off 20th annual campaign

BRATTLEBORO — Project Feed the Thousands has begun its 20th annual food drive.

Jeff Morse, Project Feed co-chair and president of River Valley Credit Union, said the community goals this year are to raise $100,000 in cash and to collect enough provisions for 200,000 meals.

Various businesses and individuals, in conjunction with Project Feed the Thousands, will accept non-perishable food, personal care items, and cash donations.

From now until Dec. 31, you can donate items at your local drop-in center or family center, or at hundreds of other Project Feed drop-off locations located at stores, schools and businesses in our communities.

For a list of local and area drop-off points, visit Project Feed the Thousands at

Campaign contributions will be distributed to many area food shelves to help thousands struggling with hunger throughout southeastern Vermont and southwestern New Hampshire.

According to co-chair Kelli Corbeil, owner and general manager of WTSA Radio, although Project Feed the Thousands is the region's largest community food drive, even with a growing list of corporate donors, participating schools, and individual donations large and small, achieving the goal again this year will be challenging.

And the need is painfully real. According to Lucie Fortier, executive director of the Brattleboro Drop In Center, food shelves across the region have come to rely on Project Feed each year.

“All of the food shelves in our region are struggling and when the cold season comes, the need is enormous,” Fortier explained. “We could not possibly feed all the individuals we see if it wasn't for Project Feed the Thousands.”

Project Feed the Thousands was started in 1994 by Larry Smith, then of WTSA Radio, and George Haynes, former president of Brattleboro Savings & Loan. Smith and Haynes emphasized the importance of helping families in the community who were less fortunate.

To achieve this goal, they enlisted neighbors and friends to start a food drive to alleviate hunger in Brattleboro and its surrounding towns.

The goal was to fill a tractor trailer with food, feeding an estimated 1,000 local individuals in need. Since then, the Project Feed the Thousands campaign has grown in size and scope. 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, it has also filled hundreds of truckloads of food to be distributed to area food shelves.

Organizers say the campaign has nourished uncounted individuals and families with food and supplies to alleviate the most basic human need - having enough food to put on the table for each meal.

The food and supplies distributed through the 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.

Project Feed has built awareness of how our neighbors and friends, including many families with children, struggle with hunger issues in our community.

According to Mark Speno, principal of Green Street School in Brattleboro, the campaign has been a valuable educational tool in teaching school-aged children about the meaning of compassion and caring for others.

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