BRATTLEBORO — Project Feed the Thousands has been around since 1994, and a big part of this fundraiser's tradition is getting local schools involved in the process of collecting and distributing food for those in need.
On Dec. 15 in the parking lot of Hannaford supermarket on Putney Road, a school bus from First Student Transportation was parked in front of the store. From mid-morning to late afternoon, a steady stream of boxes and bags of groceries were loaded into the bus.
As staff from radio stations WKVT and WTSA did live broadcasts from opposite ends of the store, donors that stopped by included institutions such as Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, the Town of Brattleboro, and SIT/World Learning; and businesses such as Entergy Vermont Yankee, Leader Distribution Systems/Pepsi, Burton Car Wash, Summit Chrysler, and River Valley Credit Union.
But the focus of the day was on the students.
Food drives organized by students and faculty were held at Academy and Green Street Schools, Saint Michael's School, Brattleboro Area Middle School, and Brattleboro Union High School, plus Guilford, Vernon, and Saxtons River Elementary schools, and Leland & Gray and Bellows Falls Union High schools.
Project Feed started Dec. 15 with about $37,000 in cash, and food donations that equaled 20,000 meals. The goal for this year is $85,000 in cash, and 200,000 meals.
Entergy Vermont Yankee gave the fund a push with a $10,000 donation on Dec. 15, while Hannaford shoppers left donations of cash and food throughout the day. By the end of the day, the bus was loaded and Project Feed was a little closer to its goal.
The money and food collected by Project Feed benefit local food shelves in Putney, Guilford, Townshend, and Hinsdale, N.H., as well as the food shelves of Our Place in Bellows Falls, Groundworks Collaborative in Brattleboro, the Chester/Andover Family Center and the Deerfield Valley Food Pantry in Wilmington.