by Cheryl Stahle
“Food. How much more basic can you get than that?” asks Keller Williams Agent, Brian Wallace. Keller Williams has been a Bucks County Happening Hero for 11 years by way of their food drive supporting Bucks County families which is housed at the Food Larder based at New Britain Baptist Church. The 2012 drive will be held on October 6th from 9:00-1:00. To participate, leave bags of food by your mailbox for pick up by a Keller Williams agent or volunteer at the Food Larder sorting the hundreds of bags of foods that will be delivered during the event.
Last year, Keller Williams agents collected 1,050 bags of food. Agents contact the families in the neighborhoods where they work by postcard and through their newsletters asking residents to donate food and leave it in bags by their mailboxes. Agents come through the neighborhoods, collect the bags and drop them by the Food Larder. Volunteers at the Food Larder begin the process of sorting and emptying all of these bags. Agents also accept cash donations which allow the Food Larder to purchase food to stock the pantry.
One of the biggest challenges to the food drive is when people donate unusable food. Food that has passed its expiration date cannot be shared with the community so it must be discarded. Every item collected during the food drive must be sorted by hand to ensure that only unexpired items are included in the Food Larder’s inventory.
Since the economy began struggling, the food drive has experienced a decline in the amount of donations received. At its peak, Keller Williams agents collected over 2000 bags annually or roughly enough food to supply the Food Larder for 4 months. But now the demand is greater so the food leaves the Food Larder almost as quickly as it arrives.
Keller Williams’ top food driver collector, Brian Wallace, canvasses 1,250 homes each year gathering up to 200 bags of food. Most agents have less than a 15% participation rate for the families that they canvass. Results depend upon the relationship between the agents and community residents and the hope continues that Bucks County families will continue to support the food drive by increasing their participation rate. Wallace motivates himself as well as those in his communities to go above and beyond by reminding families that we sometimes forget that the people in our own backyards might need some help.
If you know of a Happening Hero to feature in future issues of this column, please nominate them here.