Food drive nets shoppers free airline tickets

Brian Close

To the casual observer, it would seem like a strange shopping list: a case of vegetable soup, a case of mushrooms and a case of wax beans.
To the shoppers, it was a free ticket to an exciting spring break.
In exchange for a free airline ticket, more than 80 University students joined a few thousand others at the Metrodome early Wednesday morning to donate canned goods to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater Minneapolis.
The event made Minneapolis the fifth city of eight to host Vanguard Airlines’ “Food for Flight” charity event.
By midnight there were already more than 100 people lined up next to the Metrodome parking lot, waiting for 6 a.m., when the tickets were handed out.
Snuggled in sleeping bags, tents and tarps, the people were a quiet bunch. Snow fell on and around them as they waited.
“It was extraordinarily cold, even under sleeping bags,” said Amy Ketterling, a junior in the College of Liberal Arts.
When the two 26-foot trucks finally rolled in at about 5 a.m., there were cheers from the frozen crowd.
One hour later, the lights went on, and the people pushed forward. Everything went smoothly as people set down their cans, picked up their ticket vouchers, and walked toward their cars, cheering and whooping.
Many of the University students said they would use the tickets for spring break trips to somewhere warm.
“Any city by the beach would make this all worthwhile,” said Noah Gagneau, a sophomore in the Institute of Technology.
The airline’s destinations include Atlanta, Dallas, New York City, Denver and several others.
Despite early reports that they would hand out only 1,000 tickets, the airline eventually gave away 2,000 tickets and 500 coupons good for $25 toward a Vanguard ticket.
Lynn Annis, a community relations specialist with Second Harvest, said they were very pleased with the turnout.
“We had the worst weather in Minneapolis and the highest response for all the cities so far,” she said.
In all, Second Harvest collected 66,991 pounds of food, which will be distributed to a variety of charities.