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71 county schools collecting food for Salvation Army

By Staff | Oct 10, 2011

In an effort to fill the shelves for the Salvation Army’s food pantry, a canned food drive kicked off last week at 71 schools in Lee County to help meet the need of the community.

The annual drive began Oct. 3 and will end Oct. 14. Eighteen schools in Cape Coral are participating this year, including Bobbie Noonan Preschool and Providence Christian School.

Merrilu Bennett, resource and media specialist for The Salvation Army of Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties, said they really count on the annual food drive with the schools because it keeps them running.

On average, between 75-80 families seek assistance every day from the Salvation Army’s food pantry and homeless shelter.

“This is our really big one for the year,” she said about the annual food drive.

Last year, the Salvation Army collected canned food from 70 schools, 20 of which were in Cape Coral. A total of 93,000 pounds was collected from the food drive last year, compared to 91,000 in 2009.

The record for the most canned food goods collected during the school food drive was in 2006 with 141,214 cans, or 2.5 cans per child.

Pelican Elementary School Principal Richard Ivill said so far they have collected about 850 cans for the food drive. He said they can still collect more due to the drive not ending until the end of the week.

The school is offering little prizes for each grade level for the most cans collected.

“The whole school is involved,” he said.

Some of the teachers at Pelican Elementary School have incorporated the food drive into their math lesson plans by having the students add up the weight of the cans, along with counting the number of cans collected.

In addition to math problems, Ivill said the food drive also helps the students realize that there are people out there who could certainly use the food.

Pelican Elementary has participated in the annual food drive for many years.

Such items as canned meats, tuna fish, beans, soup, fruit, vegetables, canned pasta meats, tomatoes, rice, boxed pasta, potato flakes, pasta sauces and plastic jars of peanut butter and jelly are greatly needed to restock the shelves.

For safety reasons, The Salvation Army will only accept plastic jars and not glass.