Community-wide drive brings in nearly six tons of food

Cambridge Family PathwaysLuke Reiter

It’s hard to find an upside to the economic woes that have rocked the country and forced many people onto hard times, but such adversity reveals the integrity of individuals and communities when it matters.

That’s the message from Jason Southworth, Cambridge food pantry coordinator at Family Pathways, after a community-wide food drive brought in 11,508 pounds of food and more than $5,000 in donations.

“It really shows what Cambridge is made of,” Southworth said.

The drive, which was organized by Southworth, along with John Hirsch of Hirsch’s Cambridge Motors and Bill Berg of New Hope Community Church, is being held in March to take part in Minnesota FoodShare month.

Including the community-wide drive, Southworth said Family Pathways had raised 21,494 pounds in March and he expected to reach 40,000 pounds by the end of the month.

If donations reach Southworth’s expectations it would mean a 50 percent increase over average donations and more importantly would spare the pantry from buying nonperishable goods for an entire month.

“It’s just been overwhelming,” Southworth said.

Southworth added that he suspects the drive has also inspired numerous small donations to Family Pathways. According to Southworth, the fliers posted around town have led people to check their cupboards and bring any extra cans of food to pantry, which he said “really adds up when you get a lot of them.”

Family Pathways distributes an average of 36,000 pounds of food per month in the Cambridge area. In 2010, the organization supplied 386,000 pounds of food to nearly 4,000 families.

And if a willingness to help is the strength of a community, the future for Cambridge looks bright: the single largest contributor to the food drive was Cambridge-Isanti High School.

According to Sue Slater of Cambridge Motors, students raised 1,517 pounds of food and $311 in four days.

“They just blew us all away,” Slater said.

The community-wide food drive will continue through the end of the month. To make a donation, contact Sue Slater at 763-689-7600 or Jason Southworth at 763-552-3663.