March 18 2013 12:00 AM

Lansing launches third annual competitive food drive to fight area hunger

Wednesday, Nov. 23 — Lansing businesses and individuals are taking aim at hunger for the third year in a row this holiday season.
Downtown Lansing Inc. is hosting its third annual Lansing food fight against hunger, a competitive food drive that pits teams against each other to see who can raise the most food donations in one day.
“Whoever has the highest weight (of food donated) based on team size gets their name engraved on the trophy,” said Cathleen Edgerly, communication and marketing manager for Downtown Lansing Inc. “They really do take it as a serious competition.”
Teams compete for bragging rights and the Golden Can Traveling Trophy, Edgerly said. The winning team gets to keep the trophy for one year in preparation for the next event.
Teams from the Capital Area District Library, the city of Lansing, the Lansing Housing Commission and the Lansing Board of Water & Light have already signed up to compete in this year’s competition, which will be Tuesday, Edgerly said.
A Mid-Michigan Food Bank truck is parked in front of the Capitol to accept the donations for each team, Edgerly said. The competition lasts from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. At the end of the day, the team with the most weight of food wins.
“The businesses have been very generous” for this drive in the past, said Kathe Smith, warehouse manger for the Mid-Michigan Food Bank. “This is when people really open up their hearts and their pocket books.”
While Thanksgiving will be completed by the time the food drive ends, area churches are beginning to put together holiday baskets to feed patrons for the Christmas season and pantries are stocking up, Smith said.
“All food drives this time of year especially are important to us,” she said. “It provides food going into the Christmas season.”
Last year, teams raised over 2,200 pounds of food during the challenge, Edgerly said. Teams also donated $1,380 during the competition. That combined provided enough food and funding to serve 11,904 meals. Monetary donations are accepted, but do not count towards determining the winner of the challenge, Edgerly said.
Last year’s winning team, Appetite for Change, raised an average of 45.25 pounds of food per team member, Edgerly said. The Lansing Housing Commission took second place with 40.91 pounds per team member.
Smith said drives such as these provide extra variety for the pantries to choose from to offer to the needy. Often, large corporate donations will give palettes of only one thing, such as corn, Smith explained. Food drives tend to bring in more variety, which pantries use to offer a more balanced selection of goods in their baskets and on their shelves.
“When we get food drives like this it gives the variety of food that our pantries like to get,” Smith said.
Individuals as well as teams are encouraged to sign up and participate in the event, Edgerly said. There is no size limit for teams and teams can continue to register until the day of the drive. To sign up, contact Edgerly at Downtown Lansing Inc. by emailing or calling (517) 487-1661.