More than 130,000 meals donated for Fill the Fridge campaign

KANSAS CITY, Mo - A 41 Action News campaign to hold the first citywide perishables food drive exceeded all expectations.

It all began in March of 2012. Denise Adam, who edits content for evening newscasts, sat down with news anchor Christa Dubill and said something to the effect of: "I can't get all these stories we've done on hungry kids in this city out of my mind. I feel like we ought to do something about it. And I think you're the person I'm supposed to tell."

Long conversations ensued, and different ideas were tossed around.

What about a telethon?

Getting on-air time would be tough, and there are already quite a few.

What about a fundraiser?

Yeah, but how can we make it fresh?

In April, Christa called up Harvesters and spoke with Ellen Fieldhausen.

"You might think I'm crazy, but I have this idea," Christa said. "If I said to you we want to do a citywide perishables food drive - something which has never been done - what would you say?"

There was a pause. It was obvious the idea seemed almost unimaginable.

After a 20 minute conversation, the two had a preliminary plan. Both wanted to make it happen and took the idea back to their respective teams.

A few more weeks went by. Christa and Denise made their proposal to the Special Projects team at KSHB. Denise had edited a myriad of news snippets together to highlight the problem of hunger in the city.

Christa and Denise told their idea to that group of about eight. They answered questions. They had the whole room excited by the end of that meeting. Everyone wanted to do it.

There were meetings with Harvesters and the Price Chopper grocery store, which signed up as a partner.

All planned accordingly. The 41 Action News graphics hub designed the logo.

The KSHB team wrote a grant proposal to the Scripps Howard Foundation in hopes of making a huge donation to our Fill the Fridge effort. The grant was approved.

An online donation page was created by Harvesters specifically for Fill the Fridge. Without anything to compare it to, the online goal was set at the equivalent of 20,000 meals, or about $4,000.

Everything was ready.

On Labor Day 2012, news coverage started with the 41 Action News Today team and Jenna Hanchard: A week's worth of hunger statistics, news stories, families in need and families choosing to give. Beth Vaughn took care of the daily evening news stories.

Each day excitement - and donations - grew. At both the Price Chopper locations and online, people gave.

By the second day, the online goal had already been surpassed. The team decided to double their goal to monetary equivalent of 40,000 meals.

At one location, a local high school band marched up, playing their instruments, to buy $200 worth of groceries to donate; they'd collected the money amongst themselves. Parents with young children came out to give. People who've been in need themselves showed up to pay it forward.

The campaign's hashtag, #FilltheFridgeKC, trended on Twitter several times during the week. Another news station in town booked Harvesters to talk about Fill the Fridge and how to donate on its morning show. The effort was written up in several local newspapers.

When all was said and done, the numbers made it clear that the people of Kansas City were moved -- and generous.

At the five Price Chopper locations, you donated 15,091 pounds worth of perishable food items like fresh meats, produce and milk.

Online and at the on-sight cash boxes, you gave $8,992 which is the equivalent of 44,960 meals -- more than double the original goal.

When you add the $15,000 donation from 41 Action News and the Scripps Howard foundation, the grand total Harvesters will be able to provide because of the Fill the Fridge campaign is 130,981 meals!

Thank you, Kansas City, for all you've done to help feed the hungry kids, families, friends and neighbors in our city.

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