Montesano will hold its annual Food Bowl event this year beginning Dec. 1 and running through Dec. 12.
Formerly the food drive event was competitive and held in conjunction with Elma. This year the decision was made, however, that Elma would hold their event in November to better serve the needs of the food banks with which they work. Montesano will still proceed with weighing their collected food at the Bayview Redi Mix site in Elma, as is normal practice.
The Montesano Junior/Senior High School Associated Student Body (ASB) council is instrumental in organizing the event. ASB business manager Cassadie Golding reported that, as of Nov. 15, more than 2,000 paper bags had been collected from area businesses to be used in the food drive. The bags, into which citizens can put their donated food items, were to be dropped off at residences in and around Montesano on Nov. 26 before being picked up on Dec. 3 beginning at 11 a.m. On average, about 70 to 90 students help with the bag distribution and collection, according to Anne Ekerson, assistant principal and ASB manager.
Envelopes will be attached to the distributed bags for those who would like to make a donation by check, and Ekerson noted that monetary donations are just as important as donations of food to the Montesano Food Bank that the drive serves.
“The food bank — they like any type of donation. But (with) the monetary donation they can buy in bulk. And so the money goes much further than if we were to go down to the grocery store and buy five cans of beans. They can buy it much cheaper in bulk,” Ekerson explained.
Donated food also can pose a storage issue, while monetary donations allow food to be purchased by the food bank as needed.
“This is one of the major fundraisers for the food bank,” Ekerson continued. “What we bring in in those 11 days really needs to last the whole year. The kids know that. They know that that’s our responsibility.”
Those who for whatever reason don’t receive a paper bag and envelope, and yet want to donate, can contact the Montesano Junior/Senior High School office directly. Monetary donations can also be made online on the district’s website.
The drive’s goal is typically to try to match donation amounts from the previous year. Last year Montesano’s Food Bowl brought in about $36,000 in donations and 15,000 pounds of food. A portion of that amount was raised by Montesano’s middle and elementary schools.
“It’s a combined effort. It’s definitely a community event,” Ekerson said.
Food Bowl involves lots of other related activities where food and money can be donated besides the bag collection, ASB president Madelyn Prall noted. She mentioned, by way of example, that the ASB council usually walks in the Festival of Lights parade.
ASB secretary Morgan Kersker said her favorite activity is the “Can of Service” event, to be held at the Food Bowl’s kickoff assembly on Dec. 1, in which students auction themselves off to do chores or similar services. Mattilyn Ekerson, ASB vice president, said her favorite activity is “Boys’ Buff Volleyball,” where attendees pay or donate food to watch the high school guys participate in a kind of male version of powder-puff football. Boys’ Buff is scheduled this year for Dec. 4 beginning at 7 p.m.
Another popular event is the school’s “takeover” of McDonald’s in Aberdeen in which students work a shift at the fast-food establishment from which 30 percent of the proceeds from items sold go to the Montesano Food Bank. The event is scheduled for Dec. 5 from 5-8 p.m.
“Our community has always been really close no matter what the season,” ASB treasurer Ben Royer said, “but I think when it comes to Food Bowl … I think this week and a half we have really shows how tight our community is. The amount of money we bring in, the amount of food we bring in … it’s great to see how high our expectations can go for this town. It seems every year we can’t ever go higher than this, and the next year we beat it by $3,000 or $5,000.”
Royer went on to wonder whether staging Food Bowl at a different time than Elma, and the ensuing loss of rivalry, would affect this year’s donations.
“I’m curious to see how that will affect our numbers, if at all,” he said.
Other Food Bowl events scheduled for this year include Student Stop Light (4-7 p.m. on Dec. 4), Rock ‘n Bowl (6-9 p.m. on Dec. 7), Thriftway Bake Sale (Dec. 9), and Talent Show (1:55-2:50 p.m. on Dec. 11).