Monday, February 27, 2012

'Fill the Media Lab:' A local effort to fight hunger

Last Thursday night a group of bloggers for Town Square, the network we feature as part of The Mercury website, joined us in a Community Media Lab event here. We had about 15 people, about half of them interested in learning about blogging and the others current bloggers with us.
The meeting turned to discussion of a community service project, suggested to me by our police reporter Brandie Kessler, to involve bloggers in collecting food for struggling food pantries in the area.
The inspiration for this idea was a news story and editorial two weeks ago highlighting shortages in food pantries as a result of high food prices driving up demand and pulling down donations.
Since our bloggers represent the individual communities we cover -- Royersford, Boyertown, North Coventry, Birdsboro, Phoenixville -- and since they have networks and followers throughout the region, we thought "Why not leverage those connections and pool resources into public service?"
Why not "fill the media lab" with enough food to feed area families? According to some food pantry managers we consulted, 20,000 items would provide food for about 200 families for a month, or 100 families over two months.
The goal is to collect for the 40 days of Lent and reach 20,000 by April 7-8, the weekend of Passover and Easter. We don't want to hold on to the food we collect and give it all at once -- that would hurt the pantries between now and then -- but rather "count" items and "pin" pictures of them to a board on Pinterest.
We want to fill the digital media lab while stocking the pantries of our towns.
The bloggers at the meeting were enthusiastic and anxious to get going so we launched the plan today in the print and online versions of The Mercury. Already, Joe Zlomek, our friend at The Sanatoga Post, has come on board.
We're getting suggestions by email for collection sites, including fitness centers and college dining halls. With this post, we're pinning the first food donations to the board. And the count is on ... eight items in, 19,942 to go!
As a sidebar, we are collecting laundry detergent for the pantries as well. Our goal is 1,000 containers of laundry detergent.
Please join us in this effort. You can bring non-perishable food items to The Mercury at Hanover and King streets in Pottstown, or you can send us a photo and a count and take the items directly to an area food pantry. Check out the blogs on Town Square and find the one that serves your community to participate at a collection site named on the blog.
Keep following us from now until Passover and Easter as we work together to fight hunger in our towns.

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