Grocery store sprint

Fast Feet for Food uses competition to raise funds for Food Connection

Creek got free entertainment recently when Michelle Hankes and Tony Crisp raced to see who could be the first to fill their baskets with $1,000 worth of food.

At the final gun, Crisp, the Maryville Police and Fire chief, edged out Hankes, CEO and president of the United Way of Blount County.

In the end, it was all about the peanut butter. “Michelle was winning all the way through until the last cart, and Tony started getting $6 jars of peanut butter and won at the very end,” said Larry Ladd with the Community Food Connection of Blount County.

There were plenty of volunteers on hand for the event, and, in the end, all the food brought up helped the Community Food Connection of Blount County, Ladd said. “It was nice for the community to help us.”

Leadership Blount Executive Director Katherine Caputo and Maryville-Alcoa-Blount County Parks and Recreation assistant director Cookie Crowson “coached” Hankes and Crisp, respectively.

Crisp said it was a fun event. “What made it more special was it was such a worthy cause,” he said.

The chief said that the Food Connection volunteers have always been busy but with the unemployment rate as bad as it has been recently, those volunteers have been even busier.

“They told me when they asked me to participate that they intended to make it a fun event and a challenge,” he said. “It was a lot of fun, and the people who need help will reap the benefit of it.”

Caputo said Fast Feet for Food was a fun challenge, and she enjoyed helping Hankes compete with Crisp and Crowson. “We were coaches and cheerleaders -- that was our role. We were going crazy in the aisles. They gave us certain foods to focus on, and our job was to get as many in that buggy as we could,” Caputo said. “(Tony and Cookie) won because they had peanut butter. Our little cans of Vienna sausages were 88 cents a piece and couldn’t compete. In the end, all of it went to Community Food Connection.”

Caputo thanked the volunteers who helped. “There were a lot of volunteers getting buggies to the checkout area and helping clean up the mess made from boxes of cereal being strewn about that didn’t make it into cart,” she said.

Ladd praised Food Lion store manager Dennis Miller and said the Fast Feet for Food promotion was the Food Lion manager’s idea. The generosity of corporate partners like Food Lion and other individual donors has made an impact, Ladd said.

At a recent board meeting, Community Food Connection leaders realized that because of the generosity of community, the amount of food in clients’ bags is growing.

“We have increased the size of the bags and are putting extra stuff into the bags, making them bigger from now on,” he said. “As of Wednesday, we were able to start increasing the bag size because of the generosity of people, businesses and churches.”

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