Float for Food, Part Four

Registration opens for 2015 Float Your Boat for the Food Bank race

Registration has opened for boat builders wanting to compete in the fourth annual Float Your Boat for the Food Bank cardboard boat regatta. The race will take place April 25 at the Bass Pro Shops Lake in northeast Columbia.

The event is a fundraiser for The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri. More than $41,000 in sponsorships and donations were collected in the previous three races. The race is a cooperative effort of the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the Food Bank.

13807754005_9e2f814922_kAbout half the boats sink during the race.

Vessels are constructed by student groups, community organizations, businesses, individuals and families.  Boats are made out of cardboard, duct tape, glue and the imagination of their builders. Last year’s boats included a cardboard school bus, the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, an Easter basket, a hot dog and a corn cob.

The boat crew paddles along a course at Bass Pro Shops Lake, 3101 Bass Pro Drive. In previous events about half of the boats sank during the two-minute voyage across the lake. Boats must have at least two people to paddle, but some have had as many as eight. There is a shorter course for kids.

Registration information is available at: floatforthefoodbank.org/.

Keeping Missourians Food Secure

“Each dollar raised equals 12 meals or 15 pounds of food on tables in the 32 counties served by The Food Bank,” said Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of the Food Bank. “Last year’s race helped provide around 190,000 meals.”

Mario's Canoe was piloted by CAFNR Student Council members.Mario’s Canoe was piloted by CAFNR Student Council members.

“This is a fun way for the community to help those who are struggling among us,” said Tom Payne, MU vice chancellor and CAFNR dean, who came up with the idea for the race. “One in six children in our region faces food insecurity on a regular basis, and the majority of people receiving food assistance are poor working families, the elderly and children.”

The 2014 boat that received the greatest number of donations – winning the People’s Choice Award — was the Dragonfly, captained by Dan Obrecht and Tony Thorpe, senior research specialists in fisheries and wildlife, MU School of Natural Resources. Their team raised $2,514. The team’s 2013 Crawdaddy brought in $2,260 in donations, also snagging the People’s Choice Award.

“There is no reason people should be hungry,” Thorpe said. “Not in this country and not in Missouri. With the Float Your Boat race, we have the opportunity to have fun and feed people. We’re helping people right here in our part of Missouri. With the money raised by this event last year, The Food Bank was able to provide almost 200,000 meals to the children, the working poor and the elderly of Missouri. Not bad for a bunch of goofballs in cardboard boats.”

The USS Easter Baskett was piloted by Katy Purcell, 9, and Ty Eversole, 9. The USS Easter Basket was piloted by Katy Purcell, 9, and Ty Eversole, 9.

The Food Bank is not affiliated with the government and counts on local support to feed local people.

The Food Bank helps to feed more than 115,000 people each month in 32 counties in central and northeast Missouri. It distributes free food to 138 elementary schools through the Buddy Pack Program, a weekend food service for children; and to 135 hunger-relief agencies, such as food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters.

“Taking part in Float Your Boat is a blast,” Thorpe continued. “I enjoy hanging out with friends while building our boat. We collaborate on the engineering – if you can call it engineering – and the visual design, usually with plenty of snacks and beverages on hand. Race day is just the icing on the cake. It’s the big party that wraps up ‘boat season.’ I don’t even mind that our boat sank last year. But, man, that water was chilly.”

Watch a Boat Being Built