In 2019, the Freemasons of Rochdale District undertook an ambitious project: to gather a mile’s worth of food cans for the Rochdale Foodbank. A mile of standard-sized cans equates to approximately 14,627 tins. The project was creatively coined as ‘Miles More Food from the Freemasons’.
John Taylor, the district charity steward, conceived this unique approach to fundraising. His goal was to spark the interest of his fellow masons while providing vital support to the local community in need.
At the project’s inception, the target seemed daunting. Each week, donations trickled in, were measured, and sent off to the foodbank. Despite the consistent effort, the goal seemed like a distant dream.
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, brought an unexpected shift. With regular meetings postponed due to health precautions, virtual communication became commonplace. The pandemic had a widespread effect, leading to an exponential increase in food poverty and an unparalleled demand for foodbanks. Such challenging times inspired community groups and individuals to assist those in need more than ever.
The Freemasons of Rochdale District felt compelled to contribute significantly, offering essential food items to those who had taken such necessities for granted.
The fraternity’s physical meetings were replaced by virtual ones, and members were urged to donate the money they would have otherwise spent on meal gatherings to the foodbank. The response was tremendous, with hundreds of pounds being donated weekly.
John and his wife Sue collaborated with the foodbank to identify the most needed items. They then embarked on twice-weekly supermarket trips to procure these essentials. Their efforts ensured a regular supply of milk, fish, meat, and tinned fruit for the foodbank.
By coordinating with supermarkets, they ensured extra supplies were ordered so that regular shoppers wouldn’t be short of essentials. The central foodbank, in turn, supported local outlets and soup kitchens, extending the reach of this assistance and preventing vulnerable individuals from being overlooked1.
In addition to cash donations, the Freemasons boosted their fundraising efforts by donating food, Easter eggs, and even two gallons of spirits for raffles.
The initiative was further bolstered by matched funding donations from the East Lancashire Masonic Charity and the national Masonic Charitable Foundation. With these contributions, the total amount of donated food reached an astounding five miles, which translates to over 73,000 tins. Reflecting on the successful initiative, John expressed his gratitude towards the Freemasons of Rochdale District for their generous donations and the positive impact they made on their community.