Pilots from across the state land at COU for ‘Food Flight’
March 24, 2022
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  • Pilots of the Columbia Jet Center gathered 557 pounds of food in two days.

    The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri hosted its inaugural ‘Food Flight’ fundraiser this week at the Columbia Regional Airport. The fundraiser encouraged pilots to donate canned food or money while waiving landing fees and discounts on jet fuel. The event raised $225 in total.

    The food bank serves 140 agencies and 32 Missouri counties as a regional disaster and hunger relief network.

    Cole Finley, an air traffic controller at Columbia Regional Airport, organized the fundraiser.

    He said the idea for it came one day while he was working. He brought the idea to the airport’s management after hearing support from his co-worker. The food bank was also excited about the fundraiser concept, and that encouraged him to pursue it.

    “We had maybe four or five weeks from, ‘Hey, let’s do this thing,’ to execution,” Finley said.

    He thinks the fundraiser’s success was because of word-of-mouth, despite the short notice.

    Pilots flew from communities all over the state for the fundraiser.

    “You can use a hobby of yours and a resource that you have to help others,” he said.

    Finley would like to see the program continue for years to come. He said he hopes to plan a fundraiser for the holiday season when more families are in extra need of food assistance.

    “I’d love to make this an annual or biannual event,” Finley said.