The county-line “food fight” not only generates donations to fight hunger, it also addresses the common misconception of poverty in Columbia County, Beeland said.
“People don’t think there is a need in Columbia County,” she said. “There is a great need, just as much as Richmond County, but there isn’t a lot being done over here.”
There are 620 families receiving assistance from the Columbia County Cares food pantry, said director Dave Iverson. Of those families – all living below the poverty level – about 400 visit the food pantry every month.
Food drives such as Food 2 Fight provide 40 percent of the goods Iverson and his staff need to work throughout the year.
“Without food drives we would not be able to supply half of what we do,” he said. “With what we got from this food drive last year, we were able to go a couple of months.”
The Evans Lions Club will be collecting nonperishable food items in the Kroger parking lot at 4355 Washington Road in Evans on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The Salvation Army will be collecting at the Kroger at 2801 Washington Road in Augusta.
Beeland asked that donators think outside of the can when purchasing food.
“It’s so easy to go in and pick up a can of green beans and think ‘Oh, I’ve done a great thing!’” she said. “You can buy a case of green beans, but we try to encourage people to buy different kinds of food – peanut butter, boxes of cereal, Pop-Tarts, Rice-A-Roni – things people can make meals out of.”
Fire and police departments, along with the local Marine Corps unit and the 4H Club, will assist in weighing donations and building a food pyramid. The county with the tallest pyramid and the most pounds of food collected will win bragging rights for the year.
Although Columbia County lost in both categories last year, Beeland said they were winners just by passing the one-ton mark. With worker layoffs and furloughs, Beeland said this year’s food drive is more important than ever.
“There are a lot more people who are just not bringing home enough money and they have to make decisions on what to cut,” she said. “Sometimes that decision is eating.”
Donations in the food drive benefit local projects such as the Smart Lunch – Smart Kid summer feeding program that provides hungry children with food for the weekend.