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North Alabama food bank accepting food donations to combat hunger across eight state counties


Alabamians looking to give this holiday season still have time to help the Food Bank of North Alabama during its annual Can-a-thon.

The fundraiser began on Nov. 29 and will run through Dec. 10. Mercedes-Benz of Huntsville and news station WAFF 48 are among the sponsors promoting this event.

Can-a-thon is a national promotion aimed at lowering food insecurity among residents through local food or monetary donations.

Twenty-seven Wal-Mart locations are participating in the drive in Alabama and Tennessee counties. Alabama counties include Colbert, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Limestone, Marshall, Madison and Morgan counties. Residents may donate to the locations directly or to the food bank, which is in Huntsville. Monetary donations may be delivered in-person or on the food bank’s website.

Development Director Bobby Bozeman said there are several items the bank hopes to deliver to residents including breakfast cereal, canned vegetables and toiletries. Bozeman said one item that is often overlooked but incredibly important to community members is diapers.

“Diapers are a thing a lot of people don’t think about but can be very critical for young families,” Bozeman said. “It creates a loop with diapers. You have to have a week's worth of diapers generally for kids in daycare. So, if you can’t take your kids to daycare, you can’t go to work. That can create one of those circular barriers for people.”

The goal of this year’s food drive is to provide healthy meal choices to those fighting both food insecurity and diet-related illnesses like hypertension and diabetes. Food items that may reduce the risk for these diseases include canned protein like peanut butter, tuna, chicken and Spam.

Wal-Mart locations and Food Bank of North Alabama cannot accept frozen items or food that may spoil in the process of its delivery. These items range from cooked meats to dairy products.

Bozeman said Can-a-thon benefits the state in several ways.

He said the fundraiser is a perfect opportunity for people interested in celebrating the holiday season by paying it forward to their fellow community members.

“It happens right before Christmas at a time when we have both a lot of people seeking food assistance and a lot of people who are in that spirit, who are wanting to give,” Bozeman said. “It’s critical because of the timing and it helps people who are fighting to overcome food insecurity.”

In addition, Bozeman said he hopes Can-a-thon reminds residents of the importance in giving back as the pandemic continues to affect thousands of displaced Alabamians.

“Beyond that, it’s also just a moral obligation, even if there was no long-term benefit to it, which we see clearly there is,” Bozeman said. “Even if there wasn’t, people shouldn't go hungry. There’s too much food out there that would otherwise be going to waste. There’s too many resources in this country for anybody to have to do without.”

Once the bank or participating locations receive food donations, the items will move to Food Bank of North Alabama’s feeding partners. There are about 230 feeding partners in north Alabama and Lincoln County, TN, including homeless and women’s shelters, halfway houses, food pantries and soup kitchens.

Food Bank of North Alabama reports that nearly 40,000 meals were provided to citizens during last years Can-a-thon.

Joshua LeBerte is a news intern for Alabama Public Radio.
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