Volunteers needed to help MLK Day of Service food drive extend its reach


BG Independent News

The Martin Luther King Day of Service “Can”vas Food Drive hopes to extend its reach.

Now in its 10th year, organizer Amy Jo Holland, of the Brown Bag Food Project, said she’d like to reach the homes throughout town. That means putting out a call for volunteers, about 300 is what she thinks will be needed.

The food drive will be held Saturday, Jan. 13, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 14, noon to 4 p.m.

Last year, Holland said, the canvassers covered the north side of the city and some of the south. “We hope this year we can cover it all.”

Volunteer sign up is just getting underway. The organizers have started reaching out to groups at Bowling Green State University as well as community groups.

Holland is well aware of people’s reluctance to commit, but is confident as the date nears community members will enlist.

Some volunteers will hang back at the collection site, Grounds for Thought, and help sort the food that comes. That means setting aside items beyond their sell-by dates. As long as they are not too old, some pantries can still use those.

Most of the volunteers will join small teams of canvassers going door-to-door through Bowling Green neighborhoods collecting non-perishable food and others necessities.

Especially needed are peanut and jelly, tuna, and canned meats. They are also collecting hygiene items, baby formula, wipes, and diapers, and pet food.

This year seven food shelters will share in the bounty.

Those benefiting are: Brown Bag Food Project, the Christian Food Pantry, and pantries operated by St. Aloysius, St. Thomas More, St. Mark’s Lutheran, Broken Chains, and First United Methodist Church.

Each received about 30 boxes of food last year.

“For us it’ll maintain us through May,” Holland said of Brown Bag.

It certainly will not meet all the food needs of the 300 people a month Brown Bag helps, but it’ll provide an essential core of the food deliveries, and means the project will have to buy less to meet the need.

The food drive was started in 2009 in the wake of the election of Barack Obama. Some of his supporters wanted to sustain the energy of the campaign through community service.

Brown Bag decided to continue it several years ago.

Brown Bag has its niche. It provides short-term emergency food supplies with the minimum of paperwork. Other pantries have other niches, so it’s natural for them to work together.

“There are people they get that we don’t get,” Holland said. “The ultimate goal is to make sure people are getting fed.”