Residents Donate Fresh Food to Help Homeless

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COLUMBIA - A local charity held a food drive this weekend to help bring fresh, local food to those who need it most.

The Missouri River Communities Network held a Fresh Food Drive at the Clovers Natural Market on Broadway in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Friday, Jan. 17 through Sunday, Jan. 19.

Miranda Challeen, public relations with Missouri River Communities Network, said the MRCN decided to organize the food drive in honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and it's also in accordance with its on-going program which couples the AmeriCorps Vista (Volunteers in Service to America) and other partners with local food projects in Missouri area.

"We are trying to get folks who wouldn't normally get local food to get in touch with local food," Challeen said. " It's a good way to invest in the community in addition to just the fact that it's good to give on a holiday."

Besides the food drive at Clovers Natural Market, shoppers at Columbia Farmers Market in Parkade Plaza also donated cash and fresh food on Saturday, Jan. 18. MRCN uses cash donations to purchase food for the drive from places like Clovers Natural Market, etc.

Challeen said this is the second annual food drive for fresh food that the MRCN has done. Last year's Fresh Food Drive raised about 500 pounds of food. She said so far the food drive has received four crates of food from the Clovers Natural Market, fifty dollars value of food from the Lucky's Market, and many more from the vendors at Columbia Farmers Market.

"What we will be doing is to go over the records, and one thing I will be doing personally to make sure we can continue this drive is putting together a basic standard operating procedure for the people who come after me," Challeen said. "So the next folks to do the drive will make it bigger than what we have done so far."

So far, the program has collected over $700 in cash and nearly 400 pounds of food. Challeen said when people support others through food drives, it's not just the simple act of getting food and giving it to somebody in need.

"What you are doing is that you are supporting much much more greater than that. You are supporting a community, you are supporting your environment and you are supporting more importantly your neighbors that's about binding people together in many different ways," Challeen said.

If you missed the food drive this weekend and still want to make a donation, MRCN has a online market where people can type in the memo "Fresh Food Drive" to make sure their money will be used specifically to purchase local food for the Fresh Food Drive and donate to local shelters.

For more information on the Fresh Food Drive, visit MRCN's website.