BRATTLEBORO — Project Feed the Thousands kicks off its 29th annual campaign against hunger in our community on Friday, Nov. 4, amidst overwhelming concerns surrounding inflation and the impact it is having across our region.
According to government data, the annual rate of inflation is currently well over 8% for 2022, more than double compared to a year ago. Inflation has especially boosted food and fuel costs, affecting vulnerable individuals and families.
Project Feed the Thousands is a community-wide food drive and will be collecting cash and non-perishable food items through the end of the year. This year's goal is to raise $100,000 in cash, as well as to collect enough provisions to provide 300,000 healthy and nutritious meals.
Donations will help feed thousands at Foodworks (Groundworks Food Shelf), St. Brigid's Kitchen, and Loaves & Fishes Community Kitchen, all in Brattleboro; Guilford Cares Food Pantry, the Bread of Life Food Pantry in Vernon, Hinsdale Food Pantry, Our Place Drop In Center in Bellows Falls, Putney Foodshelf, and Townshend Community Food Shelf.
What started as a modest campaign in 1994, founded by George Haynes, former president of Brattleboro Savings & Loan, and Larry Smith, then of WTSA Radio, Project Feed the Thousands has grown into a major annual fundraiser that continually strives to fill a need that relentlessly increases year after year.
The region's largest community food drive receives major underwriting support from founding sponsor WTSA Radio and from 802 Credit Union.
Hannah Pick from the Putney Foodshelf says that the organization's client base has doubled in the past year, while Carolyn Pieciak from Brigid's Kitchen reports that 77% of the people coming in for meals are seniors.
Andrew Courtney from Foodworks has seen a 25% increase in clients during just one quarter of 2022, and Ruth Tilghman from Loaves & Fishes says she is seeing increasing need from refugees who are here as part of the Community Asylum Seekers Project (CASP).
Project Feed has no administrative overhead costs, and every dollar raised goes to purchase food. Cash contributions are maximized to their fullest extent; area food shelves are able to use the money to purchase food from the Vermont Foodbank at a greatly reduced rate which stretches every dollar to help even more people.
While cash is critical, food contributions are always welcome, with collection points at Market 32, Hannaford, the Brattleboro Food Co-op, and River Bend Farm Market in Townshend.