The Santa Fe Teaching Zoo and Santa Fe Police Department collect canned and non-perishable food in October instead of their usual fall events.
The Ghosts, Goblins and Groceries food promotion will replace both Boo at the Zoo and Run with the Cops, which were canceled again this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Donation stations across Gainesville collect canned and non-perishable goods to support Saints Food Share and Catholic charities. The zoo is also offering a $ 1 discount off the $ 8 entry fee for each item donated.
After reopening in December 2020, the zoo had started planning Boo in the zoo, which attracts between 5,000 and 6,000 people each year, said zoo office director Christina Arnold. She decided to cancel the event again as soon as COVID-19 cases increased in September, she said.
“It’s been a challenging year for everyone and we hope this event can help bring everyone together by supporting one another,” said Arnold. “But also getting out and doing activities again, like exploring the zoo when we can’t have our big Halloween party.”
Last year, the educational zoo held the #WhoCanYouCan food campaign and collected more than 5,000 groceries. Arnold said the zoo was hoping for 6,000 this year.
“We just hope people are excited to be able to help other people and do their part, while at the same time enjoying benefits like the potential to get around the zoo at a discounted price,” said Arnold.
The SF Police Department followed the zoo’s lead and canceled its Run with the Cops event, which would have been in its seventh year, said SFPD Sergeant Mark Barley.
Police are helping Santa Fe with their event by collecting the canned food, Barley said. He hopes the drive will have a positive impact on food insecure families in Gainesville.
“It is important for the police to continuously make a positive impact on our community, whether it is a personal event or a meal drive,” said Barley.
Catholic Charities, one of the charities that benefit from the food drive, has worked with Teaching Zoo for nearly a decade. Laurie Porter, the charity’s development coordinator, said. The food will help the charity with their rural outreach program and pantry.
“At Gainesville, you pay the highest rents, the highest utility bills, and the highest taxes, but still having some of the worst-paying jobs creates a really difficult situation,” Porter said. “So a lot of families have a hard time making ends meet, and one of the first things they leave out when paying their bills is the food.”
She hopes people will recognize the long-term effects of hunger like child obesity and its later complications and get involved in their communities.
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Anyone who wishes to donate can drop packaged goods such as rice, pasta or other long-life products in cardboard boxes across Gainesville. The locations include all centers in Santa Fe as well as several locations of Danscompany and Campus USA.
Contact Eve Thompson at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @evealanaa.
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Eve Thompson is a third year journalist covering Santa Fe. In the past, Eve was a news assistant at the university. When she’s not making public record requests or staring at a blank Google Doc, Eve can be found on a boat, usually listening to music from the 70s.