‘A testament to the community’: 15th annual Belly Bus food drive sets new record

  • Volunteers sort through food donations during the 15th Annual Fill the Belly Bus Community Food Drive on Friday afternoon at the Greenfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • State Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, left, sorts through food donations with volunteers during the 15th Annual Fill the Belly Bus Community Food Drive on Friday afternoon at the Greenfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Volunteers sort through food donations during the 15th Annual Fill the Belly Bus Community Food Drive on Friday afternoon at the Greenfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Volunteers sort through food donations during the 15th Annual Fill the Belly Bus Community Food Drive on Friday afternoon at the Greenfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Volunteers sort through food donations during the 15th Annual Fill the Belly Bus Community Food Drive on Friday afternoon at the Greenfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Volunteers sort through food donations during the 15th Annual Fill the Belly Bus Community Food Drive on Friday afternoon at the Greenfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Volunteers sort through food donations during the 15th Annual Fill the Belly Bus Community Food Drive on Friday afternoon at the Greenfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Volunteers sort through food donations during the 15th Annual Fill the Belly Bus Community Food Drive on Friday afternoon at the Greenfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Volunteers sort through food donations during the 15th Annual Fill the Belly Bus Community Food Drive on Friday afternoon at the Greenfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Volunteers pack up food donations for transport during the 15th Annual Fill the Belly Bus Community Food Drive on Friday afternoon at the Greenfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Volunteers sort through food donations during the 15th Annual Fill the Belly Bus Community Food Drive on Friday afternoon at the Greenfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Volunteers sort through food donations during the 15th Annual Fill the Belly Bus Community Food Drive on Friday afternoon at the Greenfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • The 15th Annual Fill the Belly Bus Community Food Drive was held Friday afternoon at the Greenfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 8/5/2019 3:10:26 AM

GREENFIELD — In its 15th year, the annual Fill the Belly Bus Community Food Drive set a new record Friday, collecting nearly 7,400 pounds of food.

“Forty-seven volunteers stuffed the Belly Bus with nearly 7,400 pounds of food to stock the shelves of four Franklin County food pantries,” said Jessye Deane, director of communications and development at Community Action Pioneer Valley, whose Franklin County Hunger Task Force organizes the food drive.

Franklin County Hunger Task Force Co-Chairman Justin Costa said the food drive was a great success.

“It’s a testament to the community,” Costa said. “I don’t know exactly how many people were involved, but it felt like a huge presence and that’s what this is all about.”

Costa said that last year, the food drive collected 6,000 pounds of food and $4,000.

He said donations of non-perishables, health and beauty supplies, and monetary donations help the programs receiving donations during a time when their use is increased.

“This food drive started because the (Center for Self-Reliance) food pantry and others noticed they were busy in August,” Costa said. “This was because of the end of summer youth meals programs and being before the start of the new school year. So this food drive helps keep these places stocked for at least the month of August.”

All donations will be shared between four local food pantries and meal programs: the Community Action’s Center for Self-Reliance food pantry, the Franklin County Community Meals Program, the Stone Soup Café and the Franklin Area Survival Center.

“The programs are from Orange to Shelburne Falls, so the food drive really spans Franklin County,” Costa said.

The Center for Self-Reliance food pantry sees 1,300 participants a month, 30 percent of which are children under 5 years old, Deane said.

“(The food drive) is clearly needed and we’re so thankful for the partnership of everyone who came together today to help,” Deane said on Friday. “In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need to have a food drive, but it helps feed people during this time of emerging need.”

Deane said one of the highlights for her this year was seeing someone who donated last year return to volunteer.

“Last year, there was a 6-year-old named Matan, who used his allowance to buy a jar of strawberry jam because he thought other kids would enjoy it,” Deane said. “He came back this year as a 7-year-old volunteer and that’s the meaning of the community food drive.”

Reach Melina Bourdeau at mbourdeau@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 263.


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