Stuffing StarMetro

Tallahassee’s transit system began its two-week “Stuff The Bus” food drive on Thursday to help benefit America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend.

StarMetro is offering free bus passes for individuals who donate non-perishable items, including canned foods, cereal and pasta. On each bus, passengers will find a big white mesh bag hanging next to the driver for passengers to put food in.

In honor of the drive, individuals who donate two items will receive a free one-way trip and those who give three items will receive a free all-day pass.

Lavonia Sampson-Jones, StarMetro utility marketing analyst, helped create awareness for the food drive and has also found more than 30 business partners throughout Tallahassee who are collecting food throughout this campaign.

“Second Harvest of the Big Bend reached out to us and said they needed donations this time of the year because people are very generous throughout the holidays, but then their shelves are empty,” Sampson-Jones said. “So this is the time of the year they are in grave need for more food, so this is why we partner with StarMetro to get business partners involved.”

The city of Tallahassee hopes to restock the shelves of Second Harvest early so the nonprofit organization is able to supply food for all of those in need.

Chief Operator Rashon Copeland, who has been working with StarMetro for three years, said he was doing pretty well with his donations.

“It started with a lady who gave several cans and then a man with a lot of cereal,” Copeland said.  

Copeland also said it took him one full trip to fill his first bag, and by 6 p.m. he had already collected four bags and turned his goods into the C.K. Steele headquarters.

Feb. 15 will be the final day to donate to one of the five major drop-off locations;

C.K. Steele Plaza, Jack McLean Community Center, Tallahassee Senior Center, Lafayette Park Community Center and Forestmeadows Park.

Jones and a team from the city of Tallahassee will take a StarMetro bus and go to the donation locations, pick up the goods and then deliver them to Second Harvest.

Tyler Banks, a mental health therapy graduate student at Florida A&M from Chicago, uses StarMetro daily to commute from work and school. She plans on donating 10 canned goods.

“We definitely need more events like these within the city to help each other and make a stronger community, ” Banks said. “I would hope that people would want to participate, even if there wasn’t a reward, but a free bus pass is definitely an added bonus.”