For years, the staff at M-F Athletic/Perform Better have been holding an annual food drive to benefit the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.
President Eric Falk decided that, this year, he wanted to find a new way to encourage participation and increase the amount of food collected, so he challenged everyone to participate in a competition.
“My wife actually suggested it,” said Falk. “She said ‘You’re an athletic-based company so make it a competition.’ From there the idea just took off.” Located in West Warwick, M-F Athletic/Perform Better develops and sells equipment to enhance and improve the performance of athletes.
Staff were divided into two teams with the members of the winning team receiving a half day of vacation time that they could use whenever they wanted. With that incentive, the teams mapped out their strategies and took the challenge seriously. The competition was fierce.
“The food drive exceeded my wildest estimates. We had a great response,” said Falk, “and there was a lot of energy. We made it easy for people to participate and they could give as little or as much as they wanted.”
One team ordered a delivery from Peapod to increase their contribution while other staff snuck in food at the last minute to try to increase their chances of winning without alerting the competition.
And the Food Bank benefited from the increased response with nearly 4,000 pounds of food collected. In addition, the company made a financial contribution that more than matched the amount of food delivered.
“The food drive was fun for everyone,” said Falk, “but more importantly, we provided a way for people to do something that they wanted to do but might have put off. It gave them a call to action. It was a win-win for everyone.”
Falk and his family’s business have been supporting the Food Bank as far back as he can remember, “I inherited my desire to help the Food Bank from my mother. It was always one of her chosen charities so we continue to give.”
“It’s very important for Eric and his family to give back to the community,” said Robyn DiRaffaele, one of the employees who helped coordinate the effort. “And it’s great to see them encourage their employees to participate as well.”
With the success of this year’s food drive, Falk said that he’ll keep the competition going and he’ll keep looking for new and innovative ways to get people involved.