Food and Drink: Mayor kicks off anti-hunger drive

Mayor Thomas Menino launched the City of Boston’s 21st Annual Can Share drive last month with a trip to Hi-Lo Foods in Hyde Square for a community shopping challenge.

Menino joined community members to shop with a budget of $21, equal to the average weekly food stamp benefit of a Massachusetts household, showing how challenging it is for some households to feed their families. The shopping trip kicked off Can Share, the city’s annual food drive to help feed Boston’s hungry.

Food stamps are an income-based subsidy program, with recipients expected to pay about 30 percnet of their income for their groceries and good stamps making up the rest of the grocery bill. So a household’s actual grocery money would be higher than the $21 average subsidy.

“Every fall, we bring Boston together for a citywide canned food drive to help our hungry and homeless neighbors in need. Hunger is often an invisible problem in our communities, but today’s Shopping Challenge showed that the challenge of buying nutritious food for a family on such a small amount is very difficult,” Menino said.

The mayor also asked people to recognize the 21st year of Can Share by donating 21 cans of food or giving $21 to Can Share or telling 21 friends about the food drive. “A small amount can go a long way to fighting hunger in our community,” he said.

Boston Can Share is the city’s fall anti-hunger drive and the largest food drive to help replenish the shelves of the Greater Boston Food Bank and local food pantries stocked during the critical holiday season. Last year, Can Share raised 86,000 pounds of food, totaling 111,000 meals.

The Greater Boston Food Bank is the beneficiary of the donated canned goods, and FedEx provides transport of the canned food to the Food Bank. Funds raised go to support the Mayor’s Summer Hunger grants. This year the “Mayor’s Fresh Food Fund” will ensure that a portion of the proceeds go to increasing access to and consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables.

Anyone interested in organizing a Boston Can Share Food Drive to collect canned goods or cash at their workplace, local civic organization or with family and friends may contact the City of Boston Emergency Shelter Commission at 635-4507 or go to Canned goods can be dropped off at any Boston Centers for Youth and Families locations, local Boston Fire Department Fire Stations, any FedEx Kinko’s location in downtown Boston and at Boston City Hall.

Joining Menino for the Can Share Kick-Off and Hunger Shopping Challenge were Catherine D’Amato of the Greater Boston Food Bank; Diane Dickerson of Project Bread; Yi Chin Chen and Michael Gonzalez of the Hyde Square Task Force; Chief Kevin MacCurtain of the Boston Fire Department; and City Hall employees.

All canned goods purchased during the shopping challenge were donated to the Greater Boston Food Bank, and fresh produce purchased was be donated to families attending the After School Program of the Hyde Square Task Force.

From materials submitted by the Mayor’s Office.

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