Feeding the masses -- through parties and roses 

When the Atlanta Community Food Bank throws a party, it throws a party -- complete with a parade, 240,000 pounds of food and a half-million dollars to spare.

The food and cash, however, did not feed or fund the revelry at the annual "Rock Out Hunger" Food-A-Thon late last month. The point, rather, was to amass donations from the partygoers -- hundreds of well-off residents of tony Atlanta apartment complexes.

The partnership between the Food Bank and the apartment dwellers is a model for food drives and fundraising across the country. It is the biggest drive in Atlanta, producing a significant portion of the stock at 700 nonprofits in 38 counties, including homeless shelters, community kitchens and the Boys and Girls Club.

"The Food Bank is like their Sam's Club," says Lauren Land, the Food Bank's communications manager.

Thanks to donations from pool parties and Christmas soirees at places like the Gables Buckhead, the warehouse is stocked.

Over the next few weeks, Food Bank volunteers will inspect, categorize and crate the 120 tons of food for distribution to the nonprofits, who will pass the parcels to needy families.

Unfortunately, this year's Food-A-Thon -- the 15th -- marks an uncharacteristic decrease in donations -- both in tonnage and dollars, Land says, blaming the economy.

But there's still a chance for anyone to donate, she says. People can help by visiting one of 10 participating florists Nov. 7 or 8 and bringing $5 or five cans of food -- in exchange for a half-dozen roses. For more information, go to www.acfb.org/events/more.

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