Shopping Spree Benefits Blue Ridge Area Food Bank

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November 30, 2018
Packing It In
Shopping Spree Benefits Blue Ridge Area Food Bank
Daily News-Record  11/30/18
HARRISONBURG — With one minute on the clock, Harrisonburg Mayor Deanna Reed dashed up and down grocery store aisles tossing cereal, peanut butter and other food into her shopping cart.
Reed was among five local celebrities to compete in the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank’s Shop to Stop Hunger contest held at the Kroger on East Market Street in Harrisonburg on Thursday.
“It was great fun,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for the community to come together for a good cause. We know we have a crisis in Harrisonburg. It’s important to come together and fill the food bank.”
Similar to the concept of the television game show “Supermarket Sweep,” the contestants raced around the store trying to collect the most expensive groceries in 60 seconds. The contestant with the highest shopping cart total was the winner.
In addition to Reed, Blue Ridge Community College President John Downey, Kevin Gibson with VA Momentum, Roger Boles with Home Instead Senior Care and Sean Hesse of Harman Realty participated.
Gibson came out the winner with $342 in groceries. He said he targeted high-value and high-nutrition items, such as nuts.
“It’s all about the food bank,” said Gibson, adding that he scouted the place out earlier in the week with his children. “Winning is just a side benefit.”
Downey, who has been helping the Verona- based food bank for years, said he enjoyed the contest.
“It was a blast,” he said. “I grew up with nine brothers and sisters so I’ve been competitive all my life.”
Helping the food bank is important to Downey.
“In my own life, there have been others that have helped me,” he said. “The ability to give back is a privilege.”
Michael McKee, the food bank’s CEO, said the contest, now in its sixth year, began in Charlottesville and expanded to Staunton two years ago. This year, they added Harrisonburg and Lynchburg.
“It’s just a really fun way of drawing attention to the problem of hunger,” McKee said. “Contestants have a great time.”
In addition to Thursday’s contest, the celebrities have been collecting food and donations all week. McKee said it’s amazing how far a small donation can go. “Food banks are tremendously efficient,” McKee said. “Every dollar provides the equivalent to four meals.”
The Harrisonburg event raised enough food and money to provide roughly 19,100 meals in the 25 counties and eight cities the food bank serves.
McKee said it wouldn’t have been possible if not for Kroger opening its doors for those in need.
Christian Rodgers, Kroger associate communications manager for the regional division, said the event was part of the company’s Zero Hunger, Zero Waste campaign.
The campaign aims to eliminate waste in its stores and end hunger in the communities its serves by 2025.
“It’s a great opportunity, especially during the holidays, to go the extra mile and help those in need in the local community,” Rodgers said.