BRATTLEBORO — Project Feed the Thousands has begun its 30th annual campaign against hunger in our communities.
Organizers said in a news release that they will work to make this year's campaign "the most successful ever in its 30-year history" and said they are "undeterred by rampant inflation and other economic factors that make food insecurity a prolific, incessant, and persistent concern for countless individuals and families in our area."
Project Feed is a community-wide food drive collecting cash and non-perishable food items through the end of the year. This year's goal is to raise $130,000 in cash, as well as to collect enough provisions to provide 330,000 healthy and nutritious meals.
What started as a modest campaign in 1994, founded by George Haynes, former president of the Brattleboro Savings & Loan, and Larry Smith, then of WTSA Radio, Project Feed has grown into a major annual fundraiser that continually strives to fill a need that relentlessly increases year after year.
The campaign supports nine area food shelves: Foodworks (Groundworks' food shelf), St. Brigid's Kitchen, and Loaves & Fishes Community Kitchen, all in Brattleboro; Guilford Cares Food Pantry; Bread of Life Food Pantry in Vernon; Hinsdale Food Pantry; Our Place Drop In Center in Bellows Falls; Putney Food Shelf; and Townshend Community Food Shelf.
Project Feed Co-chair Kelli Corbeil said these food shelves "are struggling to feed the thousands of people who depend on them for nutritious meals. Medical bills, prices rising faster than wages, fixed incomes, mental health challenges and substance use disorders that disrupt lives - there are as many reasons for hunger as there are people who aren't getting enough to eat. Our mission is to help alleviate some of these concerns for so many of our friends and neighbors."
Representatives from our area food shelves report that the need has doubled since April, coinciding with the conclusion of the Everyone Eats program and a great reduction in SNAP benefits.
Every dollar raised in the campaign goes to those who need it, as has been the case for the food drive's entire history.
Corbeil stressed that there are no administrative costs and that every dollar raised is put to good use. An all-volunteer group donates countless hours, and 802 Credit Union staff "handle almost all of our administrative functions, including our mailings and our accounting."
Chris Thayer, Southern Facility Branch Director for the Vermont Foodbank in Brattleboro and a member of the Project Feed board, said that cash contributions "are maximized to their fullest extent when our area food shelves are able to use these funds to purchase food at the Vermont Foodbank at a greatly reduced rate, enabling them to stretch every dollar and help even more people."
While cash is critical, food contributions are always welcome. Market 32, Hannaford, the Brattleboro Food Co-op, River Bend Farm Market in Townshend, Putney Food Co-op, and Lisai's Market in Bellows Falls, along with many other locations, will serve as collection points.
"We simply want every one, every time, to pick up extra item every single time they shop," Corbeil said.
Tax-deductible donations may be sent to Project Feed the Thousands, in care of 802 Credit Union, P.O. Box 8366, Brattleboro VT 05304. You can also donate at projectfeedthethousands.org or gofundme.com/f/project-feed-the-thousands-2023.
This News item was submitted to The Commons.