When Boston's annual CANshare program started 27 years ago, there was no Twitter, no Facebook and no smartphones.
But this year, the city's Office of Food Initiatives is using social media and the Internet more than ever before to help collect thousands of pounds of food for needy families in Greater Boston.
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The bostonCANshare drive kicks off Tuesday with an event at the Copley Square farmers market. This year's goal is to get Boston's citizens and businesses to give 50,000 pounds of food to the Greater Boston Food Bank and to donate $100,000 to the Fresh Food Fund initiative.
For the first time, people can donate to the drive online. And, this year's campaign will feature a 10-foot inflatable can mascot that will encourage people to share about the drive on social media.
"It's a new, fun way of getting people engaged," said Emily Finn, bostonCANshare coordinator.
Additionally, the drive coordinators are reaching out to colleges and universities to get the student population involved because even if they individually can't donate, they can help spread the word.
"That is a population that's very active on social media, and so even if [students] are not able to donate, they're able to help us spread the word," said Pete Murphy, a Food Initiatives program coordinator. "They have a lot of social capital which is something that will be very helpful to us."
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.