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"Big Give" Food Drive Planned For This Sunday

Judith Valente

Home Sweet Home Ministries and the Midwest Food Bank are hoping to collect 50,000 pounds of food donations this Sunday from customers at the Hy-Vee supermarket in Bloomington. 

The two organizations, which serve low income families and the homeless,  are teaming up with seven local churches for "Big Give Sunday." They are seeking donations of such items as canned fruits, vegetables and meats as well as soups and cereals.

Carol Ann Carara, director of hospitality services for Home Sweet Home Ministries said her organization is seeing an increased need among the working poor.

"Many of the people we serve have a part-time job, but they also have three kids, so there's a great need out there still to have quality food," Carara said.

The need is just as evident as it was eight  years ago at the start of the "Great Recession," she added. 

"A  lot of people have seen their services cut, people haven't had their unemployment extended if they were trying to find a job. There are lots of reasons why it's hard for people to make ends meet. The average person who comes to us makes under $15,000 a year for a family. If I made 15,000 for my family, I'd have a really hard time paying for my rent and buying food," Carara said.

There will be tables set up outside Hy-Vee's entrance from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for customers to purchase foods and toiletries to donate. Hy-Vee will also donate one cent for each item sold, which will be go toward a fund to purchase Thanksgiving turkeys for needy families.

Hy-Vee, and other local supermarkets including Kroger, Jewel and Fresh Market regularly supplement the boxed canned goods that the public donates with donations of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Some of the food will be set aside for the Back Pack Program, which serves children who receive free or subsidized school meals during the week. 

"When those kids go home on the weekends, there is often not enough food in the house for them to eat or for their siblings to eat, so a lot of times they show poor attendance and scores on Mondays and Tuesdays when they come back to school. So Midwest Food Bank has partnered with schools to provide these backpacks that kids can take home and have supplemental food for the weekend," Carara said. 

The Back Pack Program is seeking donations of canned spaghetti, granola bars and individual portions of macaroni and cheese, among other items.

Seven local churches, including Vale Church, Evangelical Free Church, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, New Life Fellowship, Victory Christian Center, Charis Community Church and First Baptist Church  are joining in the food drive.