Co-Mo Electric Cooperative capped a successful three-month food drive Jan. 5, delivering hundreds of pounds of food into the hands of volunteers from the Food Bank for Central Missouri.
In the process, the cooperative helped reduce members' electric bills.
The food drive was launched in October with the goal of helping Buddy Pack programs in the cooperative's nine-country service territory. Buddy Packs are backpacks filled with kid-friendly, nutritious food that students take home over the weekend or holidays to supplement their meals when there is not enough for them to eat at home. After the weekend, the kids bring their empty backpacks back to school to be refilled by local volunteers. The aim is to keep the growing youngsters happy and healthy and to remove the hunger that could be an impediment to learning.
In return for each donated food item, Co-Mo gave members a CFL light bulb. CFL bulbs use less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs, reducing the members' electricity bills.
"It was your classic win-win," said June Nivens, Co-Mo Electric Cooperative assistant manager, who was on hand to present the food and more than $300 in donations to the food-bank representatives. "Through the food drive, we were able to use the strength of the cooperative's membership to help local kids, and in return we're able to help save our members some money."
As soon as the drive began in October, boxes in both of Co-Mo's offices, in Tipton and Laurie, began filling up with food. Employees got in on the effort as well.
"It was amazing to see the generosity that came from our members and our staff," said Corey ten Bensel, Lake District manager, whose Laurie office saw the bulk of the donations from members. "This will allow the Buddy Pack programs to restock their supplies now that the Christmas break is over."
That was the intention of the drive, Nivens said.
"We know there are a lot of great community organizations and individuals who donate food leading up to the holidays, but then there's kind of a lull right after that. We wanted to break the lull," she said.