Meadville Tribune

Local News

October 11, 2012

Make A Difference Day food drive expands

MEADVILLE — With financial aid from the state cut by more than $60,000 during the past three years, local food pantry clients are desperate for Saturday’s Make A Difference Day to truly make a difference.

Crawford County’s annual day of service to the less fortunate, Make A Difference Day pairs nearly 1,000 volunteers with several hundred projects that needy residents cannot otherwise do themselves or pay to have done. Work ranges from literally putting roofs over heads to cleaning up neighborhood eyesores.

For the past several years, the day has included a food drive, and with state cutbacks deeper and calls for help steady, this year’s effort has expanded. Instead of collecting food at one site during the Make A Difference Day morning, five sites will collect into the afternoon.

Collections will operate at Valesky’s in Meadville, H&H Market Place in Saegertown, Ray’s Market Place in Linesville, Samuel’s Market in Conneautville and Cochranton Market Place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Nonperishable items are requested, with specific emphasis on peanut butter, cereal and canned fruits and vegetables. Monetary donations can be made online at and are greatly encouraged for those unable to donate food or get to the grocery stores.

The food and money goes to Meadville-based Center for Family Services, which operates and cooperates with food pantries across Crawford County. “Any money donated will be pooled together to purchase larger amounts of food to split up between the county food pantries,” said the center’s food pantry coordinator, Maria Firkaly.

Crawford County’s annual state allocation from the State Food Purchase Program, money that goes to the center for food pantry operations, dropped by about $32,000 this year.

“Three years ago, we were alloted about $164,000 and now we’re working with $101,000,” said the center’s executive director, Linda Bennett. “It’s a continuing, downward trend and food needs have increased tremendously.”

The food pantries run on a volunteer basis and serve between 1,100 and 1,300 families a month, according to Bennett.

She extends her thanks to all those who contribute anything they can to the drive’s efforts on Saturday.

“It’s amazing how much a can of food can help a family when they’re struggling,” added Firkaly. “And a lot of people are struggling.”

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