BRADENTON, Fla. — Last weekend, more than 350 volunteers helped collect 47,307 pounds of non-perishable food items for local food banks in a Stuff the Bus event coordinated by the School District of Manatee County in partnership with Publix Supermarkets and United Way of Manatee County.
According to staff at the Manatee County Food Bank, the food collected will last through May. Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee Inc. will also receive donated food items.
The event was the brainchild of the school district's vehicle maintenance manager, Brian Keisacker, who suggested parking a bus at a local supermarket to collect food items. The project took off with just about a month of planning time through a colleague's connection with a district manager for Publix. "He said, 'I don't want it at one store, I want it at all of our stores,'" Terri Dingler, area manager for Manatee transportation, told SBF.
On Nov. 21 and 22, volunteers from the school district and community members collected food items from shoppers and loaded the items on school buses parked at 15 Publix stores. "Publix said they really wanted to promote [the project]. They had banners done up, they had the majority of the buses parked right up by their front doors with balloons on them, and they had pre-packaged food," Dingler said.
A report in the Bradenton Herald said that the amount of donations was so great that the food bank now needs volunteers to help sort the donated items. The article also reported that Streicher Mobile Fueling Inc. donated fuel for the school buses for the event.
To see more photos from the event, click here.