Kids Help Food Bank

1,924 families lined up in August

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Students from Payson Center for Success High School mounted a food drive for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank. Kortney Kepp (left) and Tori McDaniel load food items Thursday.

Nearly every day that the food bank opens its doors, at least 100 families anxiously wait outside for a box of necessities, tuna, bread, noodles and milk. Some 128 volunteers at different times gingerly load up 40-pound boxes and hand them out. As they do, they also give a little something extra — comfort.

This relief comes not only through volunteers, but also from all the caring hands that donate food.

This summer, needy families have hit the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank hard. Manager Wayne Parent said he doesn’t know if it’s because school is back in session or if more people are out of work, but last month they helped 1,924 families, up from 1,750 three months prior.

“This month is shaping up to be the same,” he said of the high numbers.

Just on Tuesday, the food bank helped 135 people and it isn’t even the end of the month when numbers rise as people run out of food stamps.

With so many people coming in, supplies have run low.

When Payson’s Center for Success Principal Kathe Ketchem heard the food bank was short on donations three weeks ago, her students decided to create a food drive competition between the morning and afternoon classes.

Student Jeremy Gwizdalski spearheaded the drive by offering to buy pizza for the winning class.

PCS, a district-sponsored charter high school, requires students to give back to the community at least five hours each semester in a program called Dragonheart.

On Thursday, students from PCS dropped off three shopping carts worth of food, or as Gwizdalski proudly stated, 965 items of food.

“I turned out pretty good,” he said.

The two classes ended up tying in donations, so Ketchem said she would pitch in to buy pizza for all 50 students.

Parent said the food students donated Thursday would add variety to what they normally hand out. Last week, the food bank received a large shipment that should last two weeks.

“We give out 25,000 pounds of food a month,” he said, “and 55 percent of food received comes from the Payson community.”

With some families coming in three times a month, more donations are always needed. Parent noted that whenever they are low, someone always shows up at their door with food in hand.

“The town is so giving,” he said.

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