Living Columns & Blogs

Virtual food drives are just a click away

For more than 30 years, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank has served 27 central Pa. counties. Over the years, there have many positive changes to the organization, including expansions to both healthy food hub locations in Harrisburg and Williamsport to better serve the community.

Now the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is taking on a new initiative by bringing traditional food drives — where people drop off items to be donated at certain locations — to the virtual world.

“Food drives are a powerful connector for the communities we serve, bringing awareness to our mission of fighting hunger, improving lives, strengthening communities,” said 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. “

A virtual food drive is a web-based tool allowing individuals and organizations to host a food drive through the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank’s website. The site allows users to scan items at a check-out station instead of going to a 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 neighbors in need.

Because the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank can generate six meals from a donation of just $1, an individual or organization setting 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.

The demand for food continues to rise. In Pennsylvania, 1 in 9 residents — including 1 in 6 children — face food insecurity, according to Feeding America. The programs of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank reach more than 400,000 individuals and include ElderShare, 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 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.

To learn about the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and virtual food drives, visit www.centralpafoodbank.org or call 570-564-1700.

Carla Fisher is the marketing and communications coordinator at the Central Pennylyvania Food Bank.

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