On January 19, 2022

GMP Food Challenge wants to achieve record goal

With need skyrocketing due to rising food prices and the Covid-19 pandemic, the Rutland Community Cupboard and Green Mountain Power kicked off the 2022 GMP Food Challenge Jan. 13 with what would be a record-breaking goal: $35,000.

“We are seeing record numbers of people seeking help, dozens every week for the first time,” said Rebekah Stephens, executive director of the Community Cupboard. “People are coming in desperate for help and leaving with tears in their eyes when we are able to give them some hope and sustenance.”

On average, 50 to 55 families are seeking help for the first time each month, along with 500 to 600 others in desperate straits.

“We are seeing an incredible number of working families who are struggling to put food on the table due to rising prices and the widespread impact of the virus,” Stephens said. “The timing of the GMP Challenge couldn’t be better.”

The GMP Food Challenge, which began as a typical food drive and encouraged teams, clubs, groups, individuals and organizations to collect food items and drop them off at the Cupboard, went digital due to Covid-19 in 2019. Those same groups are asked to collect monetary donations or raise funds to donate directly to the Community Cupboard.

Organizers are hoping to surpass the record $28,901 raised in 2019, including $4,000 in matching funds from GMP. Steve Costello, a GMP vice president and organizer of the event, said cash goes much further than food donations, as the Community Cupboard can buy through the Vermont Food Bank and other local sources for a fraction of the cost of retail groceries.

“If we reach our goal, it will be like the community donating more than $100,000 in food,” Costello said. “This will provide an enormous boost to the Community Cupboard and our friends and neighbors in need.”

Contributions may be made by check or online donation. The Community Cupboard is a 501©3 nonprofit. Checks may be sent to Rutland Community Cupboard, 65 River St., Rutland, VT 05701. Secure donations may be made online at rutlandcommunitycupboard.org/fundraising-efforts.html.

The GMP Food Challenge will run through Feb. 28.

Terry Jaye, who recently retired from Catamount Radio, has been involved with food drives and as a partner with GMP for years. Though he is no longer on the air, he’s working through social media and his network of friends and colleagues to support the effort.

“The greater-Rutland community rallies when a challenge is at hand, and feeding our neighbors is a significant challenge right now,” Jaye said. “I urge anyone in a position to help to make a donation.”

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