The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority’s annual “Stuff the Bus” food drive began this year on Nov. 18 and will continue through Monday. All PTVA buses contain donation bins for non-perishable food items, which will be given to help “food insecure community members,” according to a press release.
All food collected on buses operating out of the PVTA’s garage at the University of Massachusetts will be donated to the Amherst Survival Center. Food collected on buses from the Northampton and Springfield garages will be donated to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.
The food drive was originally planned four years ago because the PVTA wanted “to do something to serve the community,” said PVTA Administrator Mary MacInnes.
“The other part of it too is many of our riders are low-income themselves, so it’s conceivable that our own riders will benefit from this program,” she added.
Last year the PVTA collected around 2,000 pounds of food during the campaign and MacInnes hopes to top that number this year.
“[The campaign has] been very successful in the past,” said MacInnes. “And [the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts] where we deliver the goods for the southern area and the Amherst Survival Center up north are always very appreciative of the donation.”
The area within which the PVTA operates includes 44 bus routes within 24 communities. This includes anywhere between Sunderland in the north and the Connecticut border in the south, as well as between Westfield in the west and Ware in the east. Food donations come from within these 24 communities.
Donations are also accepted at the PVTA terminals in Springfield and Holyoke, as well as at the customer service office and the administration office, both located in Springfield.
According to MacInnes, the PVTA has conducted other drives in the past aside from the “Stuff the Bus” campaign, such as a winter coat drive, though they are not necessarily held annually.
“We also work with the United Way at the beginning of the school year for donating school supplies,” she added.
MacInnes said the PVTA will definitely continue to hold the “Stuff the Bus” campaign in future years.
Shelby Ashline can be reached at [email protected]