GREENFORD- The Big Reach Center of Hope is seeking donations to help replace a vehicle for its Food Rescue program.
According to Director Scott Lewis, the center is raising funds through a gofundme.com account to purchase a cargo van to collect food before it is thrown out by local restaurants, bakeries and hospitals after the current one died suddenly last week.
Volunteers collect the food six days a week as part of the eight-year-old program, he said. Currently a partner has donated a van to use until the old one can be replaced.
"We knew it was dying, but it happened sooner than we expected," Lewis said of the vehicle donated several years ago. "We were hoping it would last a little longer."
According to Big Reach administrators, the van has amassed over 300,000 miles and has become unreliable and a safety hazard.
Among needing new tires and a new engine, there are several other issues that would cost more than the van is worth.
The success of the program heavily depends on volunteer drivers and reliable transportation, Lewis noted. The center is hoping to find 1,000 people to donate $10 each to reach its goal of $10,000 for a new van.
To make a donation visit www.gofundme.com/foodrescuevan. As of Friday afternoon donations had reached over $2,100.
Generating more than 1,500 pounds of food each week, the program is a significant component of the center's food distributions, Lewis said, noting that the center rescued over 80,000 pounds in 2012 and more than 20,000 so far this year.
Lewis said he is dedicated to continuing the program no matter how difficult collection becomes.
"I will not let food go to the dumpsters," he said.
Local restaurants and businesses wishing to participate in the program can contact Lewis at 330-533-3278.
Kevin Howell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org