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South Williamsport, PA
United States

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Virtual Food Drives: An Easy Way to Donate Nutritious Foods

What started as a one-day demonstration project on World Food Day in 1981 to address the needs of families struggling with hunger, has now turned into the largest non-profit food distribution organization in central Pennsylvania. The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank (under the umbrella of Feeding America and Feeding Pennsylvania) serves 27 counties from the border

What started as a one-day demonstration project on World Food Day in 1981 to address the needs of families struggling with hunger, has now turned into the largest non-profit food distribution organization in central Pennsylvania.

The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank (under the umbrella of Feeding America and Feeding Pennsylvania) serves 27 counties from the border of Maryland to the border of New York. For more than 30 years there have many positive changes to the organization, including expansions to both healthy food hub locations in Harrisburg and Williamsport better serving the community. Now the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is taking on a new initiative, taking food drives to the virtual world. During the holiday season, you may have seen a plethora of red barrels or donation boxes throughout the community, in places such as grocery stores, theaters, churches and schools, used to host food drives benefitting the Food Bank.

“Food Drives are a powerful connector for the communities we serve, not just at the holidays but throughout the year, bringing awareness to our mission of fighting hunger, improving lives, strengthening communities,” stated Joe Arthur, Executive Director of Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. “And now we have created virtual food drives for busy people to more easily help our cause.“

As more individuals turn to new ways of giving back with online tools like GoFundMe and Facebook fundraising, it was only a matter of time before the Food Bank jumped into the world of online giving, especially with the continued popularity of online campaigns and the social activity surrounding them.

What is a virtual food drive? A Virtual Food Drive is a web-based tool allowing individuals and organizations to host a food drive online through the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank’s website. The online site has a fun approach of scanning food at a check-out station instead of going to the store, buying an item, and finding a drop off location.

With just a few clicks, anyone can purchase the most-needed items and make a difference in the lives of our neighbors in need.

“Holding a virtual food drive provides an easy, immediate and impactful way for you or your group to get involved with ending hunger,” said Arthur. “It allows for 100% group involvement, is eco-friendly, cost efficient and you can make a difference from the comfort of your home, on your phone or at your desk.”

Since the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is able to generate six meals from a donation of just $1, an individual or organization that sets a goal of $1,000, will be able to provide 6,000 meals to their neighbors. Many organizations also commit to matching their employees’ donations, up to a specified level, as a community outreach initiative. In addition, a virtual food drive allows the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank to obtain and distribute healthy and nutritious food including fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products and center of the plate proteins. One of the Food Bank’s main strategic imperatives is improving the health of the individuals in the 27 counties they serve by providing access to enough nutritious food for everyone struggling with hunger.

The demand for food continues to rise. In Pennsylvania, one in nine residents, including one in six children, face food insecurity, according to Feeding America. The programs of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank reach more than 400,000 individuals and include Elder-Share, MilitaryShare (aimed at veterans in the community), Fresh Express, BackPack Programs, Kids Café, Summer Pantries and Summer Feeding. In 2017, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank distributed more than 55 million pounds of food (of which nine million was produce) from its two healthy hub locations in Harrisburg and Williamsport. The Food Bank solicits, inventories and distributes food and other donated products to more than 900 partner agencies (food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, etc.) that directly serve people struggling with hunger. In 2017, the Food Bank distributed over 55 million pounds of nutritional food. That is the equivalent to 46 million meals!

To start your own virtual food drive fundraising team and help support those in need in your community, click on the food donations tab located in the header at http://www.centralpafoodbank. org or call 570-321-8023. The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank’s Healthy Hub is locally located at 3301 Wahoo Drive in Williamsport, PA 17701.

By Carla Fisher, Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Carla Fisher
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