AIO Food Pantry attempts to Fill The Strand Theater with food!

December 23, 2022

On Monday, January 16, 2023 AIO Food and Energy Assistance will host its third Fill The Strand food and funds drive to benefit AIO’s Food Assistance, Energy Assistance, Weekend Meal, and Diaper Assistance Programs. This event challenges the community to fill every seat in the historic theater with bags of food and funds for AIO’s programs. AIO has raised nearly $50,000 in the first two Fill the Strand events. The goal for the third event is to raise $25,000.

Fill The Strand has become our signature event of the year, providing food and money at the most critical time” says AIO Executive Director Joe Ryan. “Visits to our food pantry market have more than doubled in the past year. Fill The Strand is essential for AIO to keep pace with our growth. The more food and money we raise, the more assistance we can provide.”

Coordinators encourage community organizations, businesses, and residents to do food and fund drives within their groups, workplaces, and neighborhoods to help with the drive.  The food and funds collected will go directly to AIO’s programs that support Knox County families.  Any individuals or groups interested in holding a food drive within their group is asked to contact one of the coordinators listed below for details.

Monetary donations are welcome – and in fact your dollar goes further since AIO can purchase food through partners at a competitive price. Individuals can fill one theater seat with a bag of food or sponsor a bag at $25. Your $25 monetary donation can buy up to $100 worth of food. Those interested in sponsoring a bag through a financial donation can make it online at www.aiofoodpantry.org/strand.

Non-perishable food with a current expiration date is appreciated (no glass please). AIO would be grateful for donations of the most needed items including: ready rice pouches, macaroni and cheese and pasta; cereal and oatmeal; pop-top canned foods and Chef Boyardee meals; single serving lunch items; kid-friendly snacks; 100% juice boxes; shelf stable milk; snacks (granola bars, peanut butter crackers, 6-pack raisins). Whether a monetary gift or food donation – your support will help the people in our community who need it the most.

Food collection sites have been established at area businesses, including Allen Insurance & Financial offices (Rockland and Camden), The Strand Theater, First National Bank (Rockland branches), Main Street Market (Rockland) and AIO Food and Energy Assistance (Rockland). On January 16th volunteers will be at the Strand Theatre between 9:00-2:00pm to receive food and funds donations. Drive-up and drop-off service will be available or come in the Strand Theatre to deliver your food and funds donations.

AIO is grateful to the generous support of its sponsors. Leadership level sponsors include First National Bank and First National Wealth Management, Fisher Engineering, Rockland Plaza, and The Rope Company. Partner level sponsors include Camden Real Estate, Gartley & Dorsky, Knights of Columbus Council 136, and Lyman Morse. Champion level sponsors include The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, 250 Main, Journey’s End, Allen Insurance & Financial. A list of all sponsors can be found at www.aiofoodpantry.org/strand.

“We are committed to making a difference in our local communities, especially during one of the most challenging times of the year” says Jennifer Andrews of Fisher Engineering. “We want to offer our support to community members who may be experiencing hardship whenever possible, which is why we are proud to be a lead sponsor for AIO’s 3rd Annual Fill The Strand event.”

“First National Bank is once again proud to support AIO’s Fill The Strand event,” said Tony McKim, President and CEO. “We are very grateful for the food and energy assistance AIO provides to our friends and neighbors in Knox County.”

“Rockland Plaza Shopping Center is pleased and honored to sponsor the AIO’s Fill The Strand event” said plaza owner Peter Kriensky.   “AIO is such an important resource in our community.  Their dedicated staff helps provide caring and compassionate essential services to our friends and neighbors in a welcoming environment that’s a model for food pantries everywhere. They need your help more than ever, so if you are able, please consider donating today!”

For more information about the event and how you can participate please contact event coordinator Leila Murphy, murphy.leila@gmail.com.

About AIO Food and Energy AssistanceAIO has provided nutritious food and heating assistance to Knox County families. Funding and access to AIO’s programs are more critical than ever as food insecurity in Knox County is projected to continue to increase. Knox County currently has the 4th highest food insecurity rate in the state. Child food insecurity is estimated at 28%. During the past year, AIO has supported 5,896 households, 15,672 individuals, and distributed 12,325 weekend meals packages for elementary school students throughout Knox County. AIO’s Energy Assistance Program helps households with heating assistance or electrical disconnection prevention – which is critical as winter begins. Last winter AIO distributed 691 energy assistance vouchers, totaling $208,000 in support. AIO provides a direct path for donors for assist our community by putting your donation to work immediately.

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Header Photo: Aidan Kaczynski of AKZ Photography

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