LONGMONT — When the shopping frenzy ended Wednesday morning at Safeway on 17th Avenue and Pace Street, Doug and John Weibel, representing Valley Automotive, were left with the winning shopping cart.
But no one left disappointed.
That’s because the cart race in which the Weibels were competing was the kickoff for the 17th annual Hunger Hurts the Whole Community food drive for Community Food Share.
Competitors had two minutes to collect as much nonperishable food as they thought was needed to reach the target goal of $105.05.
Jim Baldwin, CEO of Community Food Share, said the purpose of the competition is to simply raise awareness for the drive, which runs through March 28 and is estimated to bring in approximately 60,000 pounds of food.
Daily Times-Call team members, Tom Krough and Carol Padgett came in last, but they weren’t bothered.
“We blew it; we choked,” said Krough. “But it doesn’t matter how you place; everyone’s a winner.”
The Times-Call collected $75 worth of food, $30 short of the target goal.
Valley Automotive collected $101.14, giving them a slight lead over the Heritage Bank team, which purchased $112 worth, followed by St. Vrain Rotary and the Safeway team.
Safeway then took all the totals and doubled them as part of its contribution to Community Food Share.
Bill Schmitz, an NFL referee, officiated the event, marking his 17th year in the competition.
“It’s a great cause and very worthwhile,” he said. “I’m glad to do it.”
Community Food Share supplies food to more than 90 local agencies in Boulder and Broomfield counties that distribute food to those in need.
The organization’s goal, Baldwin said, is to ensure that those in need have access to two meals a day, 365 days a year.
To reach that goal, Baldwin said, the community needs to donate 4 million pounds of food a year.
“Last year we reached 3.3 million pounds of food; this year we need to do more,” he said.
In Boulder County, 10 percent of the population is living in poverty, according to the 2000 Census, making hunger a top priority for charitable organizations.
Edwina Salazar Waldrip, executive director of the OUR Center, said that when a family reaches the poverty level, food is often the first expense to get cut.
“We look for a variety of donations to our drive,” Baldwin said. “Canned meats, vegetables and grains are preferable, as we don’t just want donations of sweets and snacks; but, of course, all donations are appreciated.”
Dropoff sites for this year’s drive are set up at grocery stores in Longmont, Lyons, Lafayette, Louisville, Hygiene and Gunbarrel and at Community Food Share, 6363 Horizon Lane in Longmont.
For more information, call 303-652-FOOD or visit www.communityfoodshare.org.
Peter Marcus can be reached at 303-776-2244, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.