Firefighters Aim for One Million Pounds in Food Drive

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COLUMBIA - Columbia firefighters and volunteers raised 1,067,289 pounds of food to benefit the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri in their One for One holiday food drive Thursday.

From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., members of the Columbia Professional Firefighters gathered at the corner of Providence Road and Broadway to collect food items and cash donations.

"What they're doing out there is basically what we do in the community-- respond to emergencies. Hunger is an emergency," said firefighter Danny Spry.

This is the third year Columbia Professional Firefighters have been involved in a holiday food drive, but said this is the biggest response yet.

"The need is tremendous. We see more people coming into our pantries then ever before, record numbers actually. So with this particular food drive we're able to help a lot of Columbia neighbors," said Bobbie Kincade of the Food Bank.

Each month, the Food Bank feeds 100,000 people. Because of an increase in those asking for food, Mayor Bob McDavid issued a challenge to the people of Columbia this year, asking them to donate one million pounds of food.

"We're seeing more hunger through the state than we've seen in the past, we've seen the school system with a much higher rate of free or reduced lunches, so what we're seeing today is mid-Missouri coming together to respond to these people who really need help this time of year," said McDavid.

"We're seeing just an absolutely tremendous response down here."

Sen. Kurt Schaefer stopped by to present a donation of 536 pounds of ham from Farmland Foods in Kansas City. He said protein is the most difficult thing for the Food Bank to secure.

Schaefer also pre-filed a bill to extend the food pantry tax credit which expires this year.

The Food Bank is able to purchase 20 pounds of food with each dollar donated. To donate, you can stop by Providence and Broadway, leave food at any of Columbia's nine fire stations, or visit the Food Bank's website.