Food Bank Volunteer Lends Shelving Skills

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About a year ago, the Community Presbyterian Church food bank got a gift when Robert Tarallo started attending mass.

They got a set of some of the most organizing hands in Rim Country.

Take a look at the food bank’s pantry and you’ll agree.

photo

Alexis Bechman/Roundup

Robert Tarallo shows off his stocking skills at the Payson Community Presbyterian Church’s food bank. Tarallo, who worked 35 years at Bashas’, now volunteers his time at the food bank.

You see, Tarallo worked at Bashas’ in the Valley for 35 years.

During those years, he learned how to “face” products correctly. He spent long nights in the aisles turning cans and boxes so their labels pointed out for easy reading by consumers.

When Tarallo, who eventually left the company as an assistant manager, retired and moved to Payson, he thought he would return to work at Bashas’.

But after a few months, Tarallo said he realized he didn’t have time to work in his busy retirement schedule and he would rather spend it working for others in need.

Now every Wednesday, Tarallo plants himself in a small closet, out of which the food bank works, and meticulously turns and straightens every food item — call it stocking for the obsessive compulsive.

“That is just how I stock,” Tarallo explains when you ask him why he has carried this skill over from the grocery store to the food bank, at 800 W. Main St.

Tarallo is rather shy about his work. Tarallo moved to Arizona in 1961 and shortly after got a job at Bashas’ were he stayed because “it was a good job.”

Fellow volunteer Tom Jones said you can always tell who has been stocking the closet.

“If it is not lined up, than that’s me — if it is, it is Robert,” Jones laughed.

More important than how it looks, the food bank offers a valuable service many people rely on weekly to survive.

With demand up, Tarallo said they are out of a lot of stuff. From beans to tuna, essential food groups are missing from the shelves.

The Presbyterian food bank primarily stocks its shelves with food donated by church parishioners and 46,000 pounds bought monthly at a discount from a Valley food bank.

With a longer history in town, the St. Vincent de Paul food bank, located on the other end of Payson, collects far more donations from residents.

The Presbyterian Church food bank opened its doors only two years ago after it saw an increasing demand for food.

Pastor Chuck Proudfoot said they get residents who live west of Highway 87 and cannot drive to St. Vincent.

Since opening, Tarallo and Jones said it has been a growing task to get the volume of food needed to feed everyone.

To donate or volunteer, call the Community Presbyterian Church at (928) 468-6583. Donations for the Payson Area Food Drive are also being collected at Walmart and other businesses around town. Look for “PAFD” boxes. People who want to donate money can mail donations to: Payson Area Food Drive, Box 703, Payson, AZ 85541.

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