Project Feed kicks off annual food drive

BRATTLEBORO — The Project Feed the Thousands Campaign kicked off its 21st annual food drive on Nov. 13, working to distribute 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 to those in need.

“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-chair 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-chair Kelli Corbeil, owner of WTSA Radio.

Lucie Fortier of Groundworks Collaborative called Project Feed “imperative to our community food shelves. 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, former president of Brattleboro Savings & Loan. Both emphasized the importance of helping less fortunate families in the community.

Smith and Haynes enlisted neighbors and friends to start a food drive designed to alleviate hunger in the region. They set a goal: to fill a single tractor trailer with food, enough to feed 1,000 local people.

Two decades later, the campaign has grown in both size and scope. As a result, 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.

Project Feed has also built awareness of how neighbors and friends, including many families with children, struggle with hunger.

“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, principal of Green Street School in Brattleboro. “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.”

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