Donated food items at the Greater Boston Food Bank. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
With the holiday spirit in full swing, Boston residents are showcasing their generosity by helping to fight food insecurity in the region.
Now in its 27th year, BostonCANshare works with every city agency and department to collect 50,000 pounds of food for the hungry. This year, the effort is also seeking to raise $100,000 in direct contributions to the Fresh Food Fund initiative.
“We set out when planning this year’s campaign with the goal of making it the most successful yet, in large part due to the fact that it’s Mayor (Thomas) Menino’s last campaign," said Emily Finn, CANshare coordinator. "He really championed CANshare throughout his time as mayor.”
And according to the city's Office of Food Initiatives, the need in Boston is there.
One in five Bostonians go hungry, and nearly half of the Greater Boston Food Bank's clients must choose between heat and food.
This week, as CANshare winds down, organizers are offering dozens of rewards to those who donate money to the drive online. Prizes include Boston Celtics tickets, a personalized street sign, a Christmas tree, a year-long Hubway membership and more. Winners are selected at random and will be notified by email.
As of Monday, CANshare had raised about $25,000 toward its $100,000 goal.
"We are really excited to see what this fundraiser will do to that number. I think it’s an exciting way for us to thank people for being engaged and also to incentivize them," said Finn. "(CANshare) has been incredibly successful throughout its history, and I really think it's due entirely to a broad base of Boston residents and constituents being engaged."
According to a recent report by Project Bread, more than 700,000 people in Massachusetts struggle with food insecurity - a number almost 40 percent higher than it was prior to the recession, and almost 80 percent higher than it was at the beginning of the last decade.
To help guide donors to the more than 500 pantries scattered across the state, Code for Boston recently launched pantrypickup.org, a map-based database that shows the location, contact information and open hours of all facilities.
"People are predisposed to giving right now, and we figured this would be a way for them to give to their community," said Kristen Weber, project manager of pantrypickup.org.
"Boston at first glance seems to be very affluent. Hunger is something you may not necessarily see first hand, but it's there. It's also something that people don't often talk about. I think bringing it to the forefront of the conversation is important."
CANshare Prizes include:
Monday 12/2 (Theme: Authentic Boston)
11 a.m. to 12 p.m. -- Personalized City of Boston Street Sign, $10 min. donation 1-2 p.m. – 5 pairs of Boston Duck Tour passes ($68 value per pair), $10 min. donation 3-4 p.m. – A family four-pack of tickets to The New England Aquarium and IMAX ($125 value), $50 min. donation 4-5 p.m. – Mike Napoli signed baseball, Will Middlebrooks autographed bar, OR Jarrod Saltalamacchia signed jersey, three random winners, $10 min. donation
Tuesday 12/3 (Theme: Holidays in Boston)
10 a.m. to 11 a.m. – MBTA Token pendant ($80 value), $10 min. donation 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. – A fresh-cut 6-8 foot Christmas Tree ($85 value), $20 min. donation 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Samuel Adams Gift Basket ($100 value/no alcohol included), $25 min. donation
Wednesday 12/4 (Theme: Groceries/Home Cooking)
10 a.m. to 11 a.m. – One of FIVE$40 gift cards to Stop & Shop, $10 min. donation 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. –$100 gift card to Shaws/Star Market, $25 min. donation
Thursday 12/5 (Theme: Sports and New Years’s Resolutions)
10-11 a.m. – One-year Hubway membership, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. -- BU Men’s Basketball vs. Harvard. Sat. 12/7, 1PM @ Case Gym (2 sets of 4 tickets) $25 min. donation 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. -- BU Men’s Ice Hockey vs. Merrimack. Sat. 12/7, 7PM @ Agganis Arena (2 sets of 4 tickets) $25 min. donation 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. – 3-month YMCA membership, $25 min. donation 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Two tickets to see the Boston Celtics take on the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 18, $50 min. donation 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. – A four pack of Boston Celtics Suite Level Tickets (most games), $75 donation
Friday 12/6 (Theme: Boston Restaurants)
10-11 a.m. – $50 gift card to Minibar, $10 min. donation 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. -- $100 to Sweet Cheeks, $25 min. donation 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. -- $100 to Tavern Road, $25 min. donation 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. – $100 to Pasta Beach, $25 min. donation 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. -- $100 to Stephanie’s on Newbury/Stefi’s on Tremont, $25 min. donation