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BHHS student creates contact-free food donation

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 10, 2020

 Andrew Zupancic, 16, of Bloomfield Township, launched Project Porch Pantry with the tagline “From your porch to their table.”

Andrew Zupancic, 16, of Bloomfield Township, launched Project Porch Pantry with the tagline “From your porch to their table.”

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki

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Under normal circumstances, 16-year-old Andrew Zupancic would be wrapping up his sophomore year at Bloomfield Hills High School with projects for his student leadership class and the theater department.

This year’s big endeavor was hosting a senior prom for residents at a nearby assisted living facility. 

Since these are definitely unusual times because of the COVID-19 virus and statewide stay at home order, Zupancic changed course, but he didn’t lose any momentum. When he’s not doing schoolwork online, he’s working to keep his brand-new nonprofit venture up and running. 

Titled Project Porch Pantry, Zupancic has coordinated a service so residents can leave food items on their porch to be picked up by volunteer drivers. The lot will be donated to Lighthouse of Oakland County for families suffering with food insecurity during the virus lockdown.

“(Our family was) talking at dinner one night about how we could help the community and help others who are struggling in some way, and how we could make an impact in a safe and feasible way,” said Zupancic, who has asthma and weakened lung tissue due to infections as a child. “We wanted to do a food drive, but I can’t risk getting sick.”

Participants simply sign up online to donate food or to drive a pickup route, and he said that, so far, around 60 people have signed up to play a role. Project Porch Pantry is also accepting monetary donations to go toward the mission, and PNC Bank has vowed to match 100% of the funds raised. 

Jeff Zupancic, Andrew’s father, said he’s supportive of the effort and lends a hand how and when he can, but largely, he just tries to stay out of his very driven son’s way.

“He’s the type of kid who is really involved, so now that a lot of things that usually keep him busy like (student leadership) have been taken off this plate, I’m not surprised he wanted to do this. And he’s done it himself, wrote a script for the (promotional) video, reached out to the school district to get some publicity — that was all him.”

The signup period for Project Porch Pantry’s first wave of donations and pickups ended Sunday, May 10, but Zupancic said he already foresees more rounds being opened up in the coming weeks, particularly since other communities in Oakland County have expressed interest in taking part.

“It’s very easily repeatable. Anyone who wants to do this in their community doesn’t have to get their own website or Google Form account to organize the pickup routes, they can just sign up,” he said.

To learn more about Project Porch Pantry, visit projectporchpantry.com.

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