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Kitsap Transit rescues food drive

"Build it, and they will come.Cancel it, and they’ll come, anyway.Kitsap Transit called off its 12th annual food drive this year because the agency didn’t have enough money to compensate for Food Fare, a program that offers a free bus ride to anyone who contributes a can of food.But the food drive is so popular that volunteers turned out in droves to make it happen. “We weren’t doing it, but now we are doing it due to the overwhelming volunteer response,” said Kelly Linscott, a Kitsap Transit administrative assistant who is running the program this year.Food Fare usually costs Kitsap Transit $13,000 to run annually. About half of that money is spent on administration, extra help, boxes and storage, Linscott said. The other half is money Kitsap Transit would have collected in fares.But the transit system can’t afford the program since its budget was slashed 43 percent by Initiative 695. So although the canned food drive starts Monday, there are several changes: All canned food contributors will pay the full fare. Donation boxes will be available on buses and Horluck Transportation ferries throughout the coming week. And while donations were sent to a storage area (rented for $700) before going to food banks last year, this year they’ll be stored on an out-of-commission bus.Volunteers are replacing Kitsap Transit workers who last year organized the donations and packed them into boxes. The South Kitsap Kiwanis Breakfast Club and Naval Station Bremerton volunteers will tackle that job.And $2,000 won’t be spent on boxes for packing the food. Instead, organizers will use leftover boxes from last year and any boxes they can get from food banks. “We did this without using any Kitsap Transit (public) money,” Linscott said. “Just a little ingenuity and a lot of volunteer help – and we hope people will still help their neighbors in need.” Although 120,000 cans of food were donated last year, donations for this 12th annual even aren’t expected to come close."

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