Get a Free Ride On Trip in Return for Helping Local Students

April 14, 2015

During Ride On’s annual food drive, Montgomery County Ride On bus passengers can donate nutritious food for area students who don’t have enough to eat – and receive a free bus ride in return. “Give and Ride” runs from April 19 through April 25.

During “Give and Ride,” food collection bags will be placed near the fare boxes on all Ride On buses. Passengers who transfer buses will need an additional food donation to ride free on the second bus. Riders using free shuttles and other transit services can participate in the food drive by bringing food donations to a Ride On bus.

Manna Food Center in Gaithersburg will collect the food and distribute it to 2,300 elementary school students who receive weekly “Smart Sacks” from Manna. The students qualify for free and reduced price school lunches; the seven pounds of food in their Smart Sack provides nutritious food for the weekend, as well.

“One in three students in Montgomery County public schools qualifies for free or reduced price lunch,” said Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett. “During Give and Ride, bus patrons get a free ride if they donate food, which goes directly to local elementary school students. It’s a great opportunity for Montgomery County residents to show how much we care about one another.”

According to Manna, donations to food banks typically are lower in the spring and summer months, yet demand for food persists through the year. Food collected that’s better suited for families will be distributed to the 3,600 Montgomery County families served by Manna. According to Feeding America, more than 80,000 people in Montgomery County experience hunger and food insecurity.

“Manna Food Center is grateful for the continued partnership with Ride On. These food drives are especially helpful for our work in elementary schools,” said Jackie DeCarlo, executive director for Manna Food Center. “Food collected through this drive will support our programs to end childhood hunger in the County. We know that more than 30,000 elementary school children are at risk of hunger. The Give and Ride program will help us collect the healthy foods needed for academic success. We look forward to a very successful ‘Give and Ride’ collection this year. Special thanks to the dedicated drivers and generous passengers for their support.”

“I’m very proud that Ride On has partnered with our customers to provide food to those who are most in need,” said MCDOT Acting Director Al Roshdieh. “Hunger is a terrible thing – and particularly for children, it has devastating consequences affecting their ability to grow and learn. Give and Ride is a wonderful opportunity for Ride On to give back to our community, offer Ride On passengers a free ride and provide desperately needed food to those who otherwise would go without.”

In addition to typical, non-perishable food items, ideal donations for Smart Sacks include canned fruit or vegetables, canned tuna, canned beans, canned chili, dried beans, nut butters, roasted nuts, whole-grain rice, pasta or oats, evaporated milk and vegetable oils. Plastic containers are preferred.

“We ask our riders to donate generously to this year’s food drive,” said Division of Transit Services Chief Carolyn Biggins. “Ride On is proud to support the Manna Food Center’s efforts to feed the hungry in our community, and this is one way our riders and our staff can help.”

Checks made out to Manna Food Center also will be accepted. Writing “Ride On” on the “Memo” line in the lower left corner of a check will make it easier to track. Manna reports that 94 cents of every donated dollar goes to food distribution.