For most families the end of the school year marks an exciting time filled with laughter and summer fun. However, for the food insecure, this time of year becomes one of the hungriest and unhealthiest. At Georgia Mountain Food Bank (GMFB), the summer marks the beginning of one of its busiest seasons.
“For one out of four children in the area summer marks a time when their only assured meals are gone,” said Kay Blackstock, executive director at GMFB. “These families feel anxious because their children are out of school and an already thin household budget can’t cover the additional expense of two extra meals each day. Without help, they are forced to skip meals or eat foods lacking nutritional value.”
Spring food drives come at critical juncture to help meet the increased demand for food during the summer months when these kids are out of school. This spring, GMFB had many local community and business drives, including the sixth annual Legal Food Frenzy; Wilson Orthodontics Summer Smiles Food Drive School Challenge; the Great American Milk Drive hosted locally through Kroger stores; and the USPS Letter Carriers “Stamp out Hunger” Drive.
Legal Food Frenzy Competition
In this year’s Legal Food Frenzy Competition, attorneys across the state raised the equivalent of 1.34 million pounds of food, pushing the competition’s six year total ove r 6.34 million pounds. In total, 215 law firms and legal organizations representing more than 14,000 employees competed to see who could raise the most and win the coveted Attorney General’s Cup.
Locally, within GMFB’s north Georgia service area, 14 teams participated in the competition collecting 1,197 pounds of food and raising $16,263.50. This record-breaking year raised the equivalent of 66,251 pounds of food or enough to provide more than 55,209 meals to the community. All the proceeds will remain within GMFB’s service area of Hall, Lumpkin, Forsyth, Union and Dawson counties.
First place overall, and in funds collected, was Whelchel, Dunlap, Jarrard & Walker, LLP. Recognition was also given to:
- Second Place Funds Collected: Stewart, Melvin & Frost, Gainesville
- First Place Food Collected: Hall County Juvenile Court, Gainesville
- Second Place Food Collected: The Siemon Law Firm PC, Cumming
“Year after year, our legal community continues to amaze me with their generosity and dedication to the food insecure in our area,” Blackstock said. “Recognizing these recipients’ hard work with a small token of our gratitude is the least we can do as we now enter the summer months with more capacity to serve thousands of families in need.”
Wilson Orthodontics Summer Smiles Food Drive School Challenge
Wilson Orthodontics is known for bringing great smiles to children and youth in our community, but this spring they set out to create summer smiles for hungry families by spearheading a food drive competition April 17-28. Wilson practice locations, Spout Springs Elementary in Hall County and Robinson Elementary School in Dawson County raised 736 pounds of food during the two-week competition.
Spout Springs Elementary collected the most food and won a Kona Ice party for the entire school, compliments of Wilson Orthodontics. As part of Wilson Orthodontics Community Dedication program, the Wilson team, including more than 30 employees and staff, spent an afternoon at GMFB sorting the food collected during their drive.
“We were proud to partner with GMFB to host the Summer Smiles Food Drive School Challenge,” said Ron Wilson, owner and partner at Wilson Orthodontics. “A special thanks to the staff and to all those who helped bring this food drive to both Hall and Dawson counties. It was an honor to work together to help provide summer smiles for hungry families this year.”
Feeding America Great American Milk Drive
Meanwhile, Kroger participated in Feeding America’s Great American Milk Drive. Through generous donations from Kroger customers, GMFB received 1,763 vouchers for gallon milk, or the equivalent of 15,168 pounds of milk, for their 67 partner agencies to distribute into their communities. These vouchers allow recipients to redeem a gallon of milk at any participating Kroger location.
“When we receive milk donations there is usually a narrow window for distribution,” said Blackstock. “The vouchers provide flexibility to our partner agencies to strategically distribute milk to those they serve. This gift from Kroger has a tremendous impact for many months.”
USPS Letter Carrier’s “Stamp out Hunger” Food Drive
Finally, the 25th annual USPS Letter Carrier’s “Stamp out Hunger” food drive was a great success. Locally, mail carriers raised 6,596 pounds of food to benefit GMFB. Nationally, this years efforts will add to their ongoing 24-year total collecting more than 1.5 billion pounds of food since the inception of this drive.
“So far this year local community groups and businesses have raised 156,891 pounds of food to be distributed into the community,” concluded Blackstock. “The efforts of these groups have a tremendous impact on our effectiveness as an organization. Large and small, each and every food drive is vitally important to stocking the shelves in our warehouse and ultimately getting this food into the hands of the people who need it most.”
For more information about how you can become involved with GMFB, call 770-534-4111 or visit www.gamountainfoodbank.org.