ROCKLAND — On Monday, January 18, 2021, AIO Food and Energy Assistance will host its first FILL THE STRAND food and funds drive to benefit AIO’s Food Assistance, Energy Assistance and Weekend Meal Programs.
In partnership with the Strand Theatre and Allen Insurance and Financial, this event challenges the community to fill every seat in the historic theater with bags of food and funds for AIO’s programs.
AIO was inspired by GatherNH, who has held a successful Fill the Hall event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire at the Music Hall and who provided guidance to AIO (see photo).
Coordinators would like to encourage community organizations, businesses, and residents to do food and fund drives within their groups, workplaces, and neighborhoods to help with the drive, according to AIO, in a news release. The food and funds collected will go directly to AIO’s programs that support Knox County families. Any individuals or groups interested in holding a food drive within their group is asked to contact one of the coordinators listed below for details.
“Monetary donations are welcome – and in fact your dollar goes further since AIO can purchase food through partners at a competitive price,” said AIO.
Individuals can sponsor a bag at $25, which will fill one seat in the theater. Those interested in sponsoring a bag through a financial donation can make it online at https://tinyurl.com/fillthestrand.
Non-perishable food with a current expiration date is appreciated (no glass please). AIO would be grateful for donations of the most needed items including: ready rice pouches, macaroni and cheese and pasta; cereal & oatmeal; pop-top canned foods and Chef Boyardee meals; single serving lunch items; kid-friendly snacks; 100% juice boxes; shelf stable milk, powdered milk; snacks (granola bars, peanut butter crackers, 6-pack raisins). Whether a monetary gift or food donation – your support will help the people in our community who need it the most.
“The Strand, as an organization that serves as a community anchor and gathering place, is passionate about supporting the good works of other organizations throughout our community,” said Jessie Davis, executive director of Friends of the Strand Theatre. “We are therefore thrilled to partner with AIO in this creative effort to help make sure services are available to anyone with a need for food and heat, especially in these extra challenging
Due to COVID-19 the majority of the food and funds collection will take place in the weeks leading up to January 18. Food collection sites have been established at area businesses, including Allen Insurance & Financial offices (Rockland and Camden), Main Street Markets (Rockland), and AIO Food and Energy Assistance (Rockland).
On January 18, volunteers will be at the Strand Theatre, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., to receive food and funds donations — curbside — to limit the number of people inside the Strand Theatre itself.
“We are thrilled to work with AIO and the Strand Theatre on this unique project,” said Mike Pierce, president of Allen Insurance and Financial. “Together, we can make a real difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors.”
For more information about the event and how you can participate please contact event coordinators Molly O’Rourke, firstname.lastname@example.org or Leila Murphy, email@example.com. Event information can also be found at www.aiofoodpantry.org.
About AIO Food and Energy Assistance:
For over 30 years AIO has provided nutritious food and heating assistance to Knox County families. Funding and access to AIO’s programs are more critical than ever as food insecurity in Knox County is projected to increase 46% overall. Knox County currently has the 4th highest food insecurity rate in the state. Child food insecurity is projected to reach 28% (a 52% increase).
Since January 1, AIO has supported 1547 individual households and has distributed 290 meal kits each week during the school year. AIO’s Energy Assistance Program helps households with heating assistance or electrical disconnection prevention – which is critical as winter begins. Last winter AIO distributed 450 energy assistance vouchers, totaling $108,000 in support. The need for assistance is real and is not going away anytime soon given the ongoing pandemic.