Canned food drive at Big Deal Food Market in fourth year

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Yes we can feed poor Americans!

That is the logo on a 55-gallon donation bin for canned and non-perishable food set up in a Morris Park supermarket about four years ago by the American Civics Institute after the last presidential contest - a play on President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign slogan “Yes, We Can.”

Lots of people of good will collect food for the poor or needy. Unlike most canned food drives, this one at the Big Deal Food Market at 1018 Morris Park Avenue has endured.

The American Civics Institute has collected the donated food from Big Deal and distributed it to St. Lucy’s Church’s food pantry and a few other locations, on a weekly basis for years now, said American Civic’s co-founder & president Sal Conforto.

“This is one of our most prodigious locations in terms of collecting food,” said Conforto. “It is because the owner Miguel Garcia really encouraged it.”

For a while, the collections will also go to help Superstorm Sandy victims, said Conforto.

“We have diverted our collections since the inception of Hurricane Sandy,” said Conforto. “It has been funneled through Assemblyman-elect Mark Gjonaj, who has been sending it to Sandy victims.”

As long as there requirements have to be made for Superstorm Sandy victims, the food drive will give as much as it resources to helping those affected by the storm, said Conforto.

Garcia, a beloved figure on the Morris Park Avenue shopping strip, said that the amount collected has grow from about 2,500 pounds of food the first year to about 5,000 pounds in the past year.

“I really have to give it to the people themselves - the shoppers who donate the food,” said Garcia. “Sometimes I find formula in there that cost $15 or $16, and I am amazed.”

Garcia said he often has his staff box the food before volunteer coordinator Bobby Adhin and volunteers like John Pucci and Cirino Lott pick it up.

He said he’s impressed that the collection drive has lasted.

“I thought it was a great idea, but I didn’t think it would be the success it is today,” said Garcia. “I thought it would be something that would go on for a little while and just stop.”

Conforto could not offer enough praise for Garcia.

“Mr. Garcia is the nicest person in the community,” said Conforto. “He runs the cleanest grocery store and really cares about the community. He is becoming a neighborhood icon with his generosity.”

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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