19th annual North Quabbin Food-A-Thon set for May 17

  • Rachel Berggren, executive director of the Franklin County Community Meals Program, pictured at the Orange Food Pantry in 2020, said the North Quabbin Food-A-Thon is an essential part of funding area programs aimed at curbing food insecurity. Contributed photo

Staff Writer
Published: 5/11/2022 4:03:49 PM

Six food pantries serving the North Quabbin region have again joined forces with Athol-Orange Community Television (AOTV) Channel 1301 and radio station WVAO 105.9 FM to organize the North Quabbin Food-A-Thon, set for Tuesday, May 17.

After two years as a successful all-virtual fundraiser, the 19th annual event will go hybrid, with a blend of in-person and virtual activities. In addition to the 12-hour program of live and pre-recorded local entertainment and interviews, volunteers will return to street corners in Athol and Orange to collect cash donations and raise awareness for food security. The beneficiaries will be the Franklin County Community Meals Program, St. Vincent de Paul Group Food Pantry by St. Mary’s Church, the Good Neighbors Pantry serving Wendell and New Salem, the Athol Salvation Army’s food pantry and the Athol High School Food Pantry.

“It’s an essential (part) of funding the … area agencies it benefits,” Rachel Berggren, executive director of the Franklin County Community Meals Program, said of the North Quabbin Food-A-Thon.

In the classic telethon, starting at 6 a.m., the lineup will mix interviews with elected officials and community leaders, as well as updates on local food security efforts, interspersed with musical performances by popular North Quabbin artists. Hosts will consist of longtime local broadcasters Jay Deane, Dean Collins, Donn Deane and Bonnie Benjamin.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated food insecurity, and the North Quabbin Food-A-Thon raised record amounts of money the past two years — $42,010 in 2020 and $45,645 in 2021. Berggren hopes this year’s fundraiser will surpass the totals from previous years.The money is distributed in equal portions to the local food and meal programs.

“I think people knew that the need was greater and wanted to do something,” Berggren said. “I think the other component is that we’ve made it virtual, which has made it very accessible.”

The North Quabbin Food-A-Thon will also be streamed online at aotv13.org/live. Donations will be accepted online (via PayPal or Venmo) at nqfoodathon.com or by mail. Checks should be made out to the event’s fiscal agent, “Wendell Good Neighbors Inc.” and “Food-A-Thon” should be written on the memo line. Checks can be mailed to Good Neighbors, P.O. Box 222, Wendell, MA 01379. However, food drop-offs will not be accepted.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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