Cramped quarters at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank in Payson will soon be just a memory. Volunteers who have kept surplus foods in their home garages will be able to reclaim that space.
Ground was broken on Sept. 30 for a new, 24-by-60-foot modular building, which is expected to be delivered this month. The building will store surplus food to give to those in need, regardless of religious affiliation.
Currently food is delivered from the United Way and St. Mary's Food Bank several times a week to a small storeroom and office area on the east side of St. Philip's Catholic Church. The semi-trucks have had difficulty backing in, but the new building and its location will make deliveries smoother.
The food bank is leasing the northwest corner of the church's property for the new facility. The church plans to use the old food bank space.
In 2004, volunteers sorted, boxed, bagged and distributed close to $230,000 worth of pantry staples.
The bread, vegetables, peanut butter and meat help those in need feed their families and stretch their budgets in order to pay other bills.
Thanksgiving and the holidays are always a busy time for the food bank, so having the new building will be a blessing, according to volunteers.
"Payson has shown its support of this project from the very beginning," said Richard Krauss, co-president of St. Vincent de Paul in Payson.
The support has been generous and overwhelming, added co-president Bob Closs.
Despite the support the food bank has already received, it is still in need of shelving and other necessary items to open the doors of the new facility. Donations of front office supplies, desks and chairs would be particularly welcome.
"People have volunteered their time and their work at no cost," said Closs. "This type of kindness is a testament to the mission of St. Vincent de Paul's work and of the people in Payson. We extend our deepest thanks to the community."
An essential precept of the society's work is to provide help while conscientiously maintaining the confidentiality and dignity of those it serves. The society helps approximately 12 million people in the United States annually.
Contact Bob Closs at (928) 472-6367 to donate to the food bank project or to volunteer. Grocery baggers are especially needed during the weeks leading into Thanksgiving and Christmas.