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Pedal those turkey legs! Cranksgiving cyclists collect Thanksgiving food for donation

Pedal those turkey legs! Cranksgiving cyclists collect Thanksgiving food for donation

Melinda Green

This November while families huddle around the Thanksgiving dinner table, Eric Tippett and dozens of other local cyclists will gather to take on “a food drive on two wheels”—Cranksgiving—to ensure that many Columbus families and individuals can enjoy a Thanksgiving meal, despite challenging financial circumstances.

Cranksgiving originated among bike messengers in New York City 20 years ago and has grown into a sort of grassroots, national movement. The name is derived from the crank arms that connect pedals to a bicycle. From organizing the annual ride to collecting the items to give, Tippett has a lot on his plate each Cranksgiving.

“I’m pretty much a one-man show,” Tippett says of his organizational role in Columbus.

Since Tippett lives in Clintonville, he named the beneficiary as the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center (CRC)’s Choice Food Pantry. The pantry helps thousands of community members in Clintonville and its surrounding areas, serving around half a million meals to individuals and families each year.

Last year in Columbus about 90 riders participated in Cranksgiving on a frigid November day, collecting and donating more than 1,500 pounds of food. This donation helped serve 1,432 individuals and helped provide 32,000 meals during the month of November, according to Katie Palmer, CRC’s Development Director. The event has come a long way since Tippet first heard about the event on a college friend’s social media page.

“I cycle for transport; I cycle to work, and last year I said, ‘I’m gonna do it,’ ” he recounts.

The donations are purchased from Hills Market, Fresh Thyme, Weiland’s Market, and Lucky’s Market. This year, the Clintonville Farmers’ Market joins the roster of providers.


Some Cranksgivings have set routes, but in Columbus, it’s more of a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure,’ Tippett said. Lineage Brewing hosts the event with ra e items from local businesses and other fun activities for participants. Riders “buy” a free ticket to participate, travel by bicycle from Lineage to one or more of the participating groceries, purchase as much or as little as they want to donate (often at a discount for the event), then bring the food back to Lineage. There, CRC has a scale to weigh the donations and a truck to transport them. There’s no set route; there’s no set financial commitment, and there’s no set menu.

CRC does provide guidelines on what to buy, though. Turkeys would be challenging, so they request dry goods for Thanksgiving meals—like stuffing mix, canned pumpkin, mashed potato mix, and applesauce—as well as dry staples for the pantry’s year-round stock.

All ages are welcome to participate. The event is family- and kid-friendly, and a large percentage of the riders are female. There’s even a competition to see who can haul the heaviest load of food back to the meeting point. Last year, the winner rode back with a donation weighing 70 pounds.

Because of capacity limitations at Lineage, the event may be capped at around 100 participants this year, but if interest continues to grow, Tippett says, they may look for a larger venue for the event in 2020.

This year’s ride will be November 1-6. Due to government benefit cuts, Powell said there is definitely an increase in need.

“Our clients are already knocking at the door regarding Thanksgiving assistance this year,” she explained. “Our community is having to make hard choices between providing a Thanksgiving meal and daily living expenses.”

But, Powell remains hopeful with Cranksgiving impact.

“Cranksgiving will help make this decision easier for our neighbors.”

If you’re interested in participating in Cranksgiving this year or expressing interest in 2020’s ride, follow “CranksgivingColumbus” on Facebook.


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