Buy a Duck, Feed the Hungry

What will you be doing on Sunday? Turning on the fireworks? Going to a picnic? Before you go, click this link: Rubber Duck Regatta and buy some ducks to feed the hungry.

Right.  It’s that time of year again, time for the biggest Freestore Foodbank fundraiser, the Rubber Duck Regatta.  I was recently invited on a tour of the Freestore Foodbank facilities on Tennessee Avenue (along with representatives from the Freestore’s YP group and a couple of other bloggers), and though I’ve worked with this organization before, every time I talk with their staff I learn something new.

Freestore Foodbank tour

$25– which will get you five ducks (plus a bonus duck)– can feed a family of four for a week.  A WEEK! The cart you see (with the five ducks representing $25)  is the amount of food that can be provided to a family.

Where does the Freestore Foodbank get their food?  Lots of places.  Kroger and Biggs/Remke freeze meat that is just to its sell-by date and provide it to the Freestore, where they keep it frozen and provide it to any one of their member agencies in the area.  Produce distributors provide fresh produce daily.  Procter and Gamble donates personal care products, and the federal government provides food too.  They also get donations from residents, usually during food drives.

That area, by the way, extends from Hamilton, south to Petersburg, KY, west into Switzerland County, IN and east as far as Portsmouth, Ohio.  50% of their work happens outside of the inner city.  There are lots of folks in suburban and rural areas who are in need, too.  Individual member agencies can order food to stock their kitchen (at 16 cents a pound), or come in and pick things up individually.  This is where your food drive donations go– to a pantry that member agencies can shop from.

Freestore Foodbank tourThey also mentioned that they love, love, love donations and appreciate any food donations that you may provide.  However, when you are donating items, they recommend keeping a few things in mind:

  • Check the expiration date and condition of any food that you provide.  They have federal standards that they must adhere to, and they cannot use peas from 1978 (true story. It happened.) or anything that has been partially used or opened.
  • If you’re wondering what to buy, think about things that you and your family like.  Things like canned vegetables, canned fruits, and boxed dinners are perfectly good choices for donation.
  • Use a food drive as a teachable moment for your family.  Take your kids to the store with you and have them help you pick out items with the express intention of donating.  It’ll help them learn to be generous as well.

Freestore Foodbank tourSo, about those ducks.  Did you know that there are so many duck-oriented events in the country that you can RENT ducks?  I was amazed by the idea of rubber duck rental.  The Freestore’s event is the largest, at more than 100,000 ducks (and they can accommodate up to 150,000 ducks), and they have volunteers process the ducks each year.

The ducks are dropped off of the Purple People Bridge, and the winning duck they pluck from the river after a quarter-mile “swim” will win its sponsor a 2010 Honda Fit, and if it’s a special duck marked with a special code, Kemba Credit Union will provide a $2 million price– $1 million for the winner, and another $1 million for the Freestore Foodbank.

So, here’s the link again if you’d like to donate: Rubber Duck Regatta.  I set up a wine me, dine me “team” — though it’s no competition, just an easy way to donate.

Thanks to Lauren and the rest of the Freestore staff for the invite, thanks to their Cincinnati COOKS program for feeding us (more on them in a later post), and thanks to Erica and Dan from Cincinnati Readventure for allowing me to use their pics!

(Those ducks are SO CUTE. Squee.)



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