Archive for Friday, December 21, 2007

Food drive lets T riders pay by cans

December 21, 2007


'Food drive' takes on new twist

For local food banks, the holidays can mean empty shelves and empty stomachs. 6News reporter Laura McHugh introduces you to one local resident trying to bring a whole new meaning to the term 'food drive.' Enlarge video

Jonathan Krasick, of Lawrence, places a can of food in a box on one of the T buses Thursday morning for his ride. The fare was part of a drive to collect canned goods for food banks.

Jonathan Krasick, of Lawrence, places a can of food in a box on one of the T buses Thursday morning for his ride. The fare was part of a drive to collect canned goods for food banks.

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While on the T's Route 6 on Thursday, Lawrence bus driver Tony Duran hoped his passengers wouldn't pay their fare in change.

Instead, he was hoping for a can of food to contribute to a food drive he organized.

"It's a pretty good turnout," Duran said. "I was really surprised."

In place of the usual 75-cent fare, riders could bring a canned good or other nonperishable food item on board to donate to a local food bank.

Duran came up with the idea after having to use a local food pantry once himself. "We've had instances where I've been sick and couldn't work for a couple days, and we were short on our check," Duran said. "After seeing that and talking to some of my passengers, I realized there was a big demand in Lawrence around the holiday season."

That's an experience he shares with many of his riders. According to Lawrence Transit System Administrator Cliff Galante, a recent survey revealed 46 percent of T riders have annual household incomes below $15,000. Now back on their feet, several felt compelled to donate.

Some even spent more on donations than they would have on their fares.

"I've been homeless and I'm still on a fixed income, so I know the importance the pantries have to the people that need it, so I wanted to donate something," rider Jonathan Krasick said.

Said rider Sean Amon, "I've been in that same situation before, and I know what it's like. If I can give back to the community, then I know I've done something right."

When Duran presented the idea, officials from the city and MV transportation, which manages the buses and employs the drivers, got on board.

They now hope it can become an annual tradition.

"We knew the holidays were approaching, and we thought hey, what a great idea," Galante said. "The holidays are a time about giving, sharing and helping your community, and I think this is a great way to do it."

Duran said all of the food will go to Just Food, an organization that supplies local food pantries. All of the donations will go to Lawrence food banks.

Through the drive, they collected at least 200 canned goods. They'll know exactly how many donations they received today, but Duran said the amount doesn't matter.

"If we raise a hundred cans, that's still better than nothing at all," he said. "If I have one passenger donate another can, I'd be happy."


SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 2 months ago

How about riders donate a canned good AND pay their fare?

justforfun 10 years, 2 months ago

Yea O.K . It's a good deal for the homeless or poor, however when someone donates a $. 37 can of beans instead of the $.75 bus fare that further drives the revenue down for the MT.Last I checked the buses were facing major cuts. Why not have the T donate all the money from fares for a day to the pantry? That would more than double the food, and all the do-gooders are still feeling pretty good about themselves.

FormerCentralKansan 10 years, 2 months ago

The T is worth about a can of corn IMO...maybe...

werekoala 10 years, 2 months ago

So we know at least 200 individuals rode the bus today. It's a banner day for the T, boys!

Good for them, helping the food shelter, and all, but I'd be just as happy if we:

1) scrapped the big T buses 2) operated shortbuses or conversion vans only on routes/stops that are consistently being used by more than 2 people 3) Set up some sort of smart dispatching system on the remaining buses so they are only in use during peak demand periods, and don't waste time/fuel driving around empty or stopping at empty stops. 4) Gave out a small number of round-trip taxi vouchers each month to people without a car below the poverty line 5) Create a carpooling database, or if there already is one, promote it. 6) Use the data from the carpooling database to construct new routes/times.
7)Also set up a web site where people can request certain routes/times. Make the system more organic.

With the money we save from increasing ridership and decreasing time spent driving around empty, I'm sure we could afford to give a bunch more money to the food drive.

==== Please note, I'm really not one of those screw-the-poor types; I think Lawrence needs some form of public transit. But it drives me crazy to hear people say, "No, the buses are full." -- Sure, a few buses MAY be full at a few times of day -- great, keep them running.

But the overwhelming majority of buses I see (that I am paying for) could comfortably fit their passengers in a normal car, so I am hard pressed to see how it makes sense in terms of economy, traffic flow, or environment to use a giant diesel transport instead.

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