No slowing down the Holiday Food Basket Project

Volunteers add food to a boxes as part of the Capital Region Food Program’s Holiday Food Basket Project at the New Hampshire Army National Guard Armory in Concord on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. The boxes will contain enough food to last a few weeks in addition to a special holiday meal. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz
Volunteers add food to a boxes as part of the Capital Region Food Program’s Holiday Food Basket Project at the New Hampshire Army National Guard Armory in Concord on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. The boxes will contain enough food to last a few weeks in addition to a special holiday meal. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz
Volunteers Lisa Philbrick (left) and Patty Smith add apples to rows and rows of boxes as part of the Capital Region Food Program’s Holiday Food Basket Project at the New Hampshire Army National Guard Armory in Concord on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz
Volunteers Lisa Philbrick (left) and Patty Smith add apples to rows and rows of boxes as part of the Capital Region Food Program’s Holiday Food Basket Project at the New Hampshire Army National Guard Armory in Concord on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

Mother Nature did her best to try and derail the Capital Region Food Program’s annual Holiday Food Basket Project.

With snow coming down for a good chunk of the satellite/recipient pickup day and ice for the delivery day, it wasn’t exactly the most ideal weather conditions for getting food to more than 2,000 families.

But with this being the 44th year of the project, a lot more needs to happen to stop all that food from going out the door.

“This is the first time I remember the weather being so extreme on back-to-back distribution days,” said Maria Manus Painchaud, chairwoman of the project.

All the satellite locations picked up their boxes on Dec. 22, but 266 families that were supposed to get their boxes at the New Hampshire Army National Guard Armory couldn’t make it because of the weather.

So those got tacked on to the almost 800 deliveries scheduled for two days before Christmas, moving that total to well over 1,000 stops to make in slippery conditions.

“We just had to work those in,” she said.

It didn’t matter though, because all the food got to where it needed to be in the end.

“What we discovered is that we want to have good weather on Dec. 22 and not so good weather on the 23rd,” said Manus Painchaud.

The reason being is that on delivery day, if the weather is not conducive to going out, more people are at home to receive their boxes.

In total, 2,019 families got two boxes this holiday season – one with all the fixings for a holiday dinner and the other with staples for the next two weeks.

“We’re beginning to master this after 44 years,” Manus Painchaud said.

About 65 tons of food was donated for the project from area schools, businesses, law firms, Concord Hospital, the N.H. Department of Transportation and many more. The students at Concord High also donated more than $8,000 that they had collected.

More than 1,000 volunteers took part in the nine-day program that also saw the leftover food handed out as part of the CRFP’s year round distribution the day after Christmas

For more info, visit capitalregionfoodprogram.org.

Author: Tim Goodwin

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