Nine years ago, the shelves in the food pantry at Flat River Outreach Mission (FROM) were looking a bit bare. Then someone had a great idea: what if we created a little friendly competition to help restock the shelves?
And the FROM Food Fight was born.
The annual event now has dual purposes. It helps fill the pantry at a time of the year when food donations often drop off, and it doubles as a fundraiser for the other services offered through FROM.
FROM Food Fight Pits North vs. South
The FROM Food Fight uses Main Street as the dividing line with everyone to the north being on one team and everyone to the south on another. Teams earn points by donating nonperishable food items or cash. With eight Food Fights come and gone, the two sides of the community are evenly matched. The ongoing tally is 4-4, and this year will decide who gets bragging rights as being the most generous side of town.
To help your side of town win, look for the red and white barrels scattered at businesses around the community. You can drop your non-perishable food items in these barrels, or you can make a cash donation directly to FROM and earmark it for either the North or South team. Donations will also be accepted online and can be made with a credit card through the payment service PayPal.
Lowell Area Schools is getting into the action this year too with a friendly competition between their buildings. Amway is a matching sponsor for the school competition, and the district hopes to raise $10,000 toward the effort.
Amway isn’t the only matching sponsor either. Lighthouse, Enwork, King Milling, Alto Lions Club, River Valley Credit Union and Magna have all generously agreed to be matching sponsors in 2017. That means if you haven’t donated to the FROM Food Fight before, this is the year to do it!
Community Members Helping Community Members
While there are plenty of charities vying for your donations, FROM is distinctly Lowell-oriented. Its 15 programs support families and children facing challenges such as inadequate housing, hunger and other critical needs. They provide money for people to keep the heat on in the winter, distribute backpacks to kids at the start of the school year and arrange for free tax preparation in the spring.
“You know when you donate that it’s helping your neighbors in need,” says Amanda Haberlein, the marketing and communications director for FROM.
Last year, FROM’s food pantry served nearly 7,500 adults and children and more than 11,000 summertime meals were given to students. These kids may have received free or reduced price lunches during the school year, and FROM helps fill in during the summer break. Beyond that, 284 children received backpacks with school supplies at the start of classes, and 28 families were recipients of weatherization or home repair services. On average, FROM helps another four families a month with financial needs.
“[Negative] circumstances happen in all of our lives, and it’s nice to know there is someone local to help,” Haberlein says.
However, there is only someone local to help if the community pitches in. From now until June 2nd, it’s your chance to be a part of the good work done at FROM.