Although it came down to the wire and a few last-minute donations during Super Bowl weekend, the Payson Area Food Drive topped its 50,000-pound goal — cruising through the finish line with at least an extra 1,000 pounds of food in tow.
Volunteers are still collecting up the remaining food drive boxes and once the tally is complete, organizers expect another few thousand pounds of food to feed needy families in the Rim Country.
“This was a historic local food drive,” said PAF drive chairman Roger Kreimeyer. The most food ever collected before the PAF drive was around 7,000 pounds, a molehill compared to the storage units crammed full of food during this drive.
“I feel so proud of the community and the organizations that came together to do this,” Kreimeyer said.
On top of food collections, the drive brought in more than $20,000 in donations, which will be used solely to buy hygiene products, perishable food and other food items not donated.
“We still have stuff coming down the line,” he said. “Once we are all done counting, we could see more money and food.”
If they use the money to buy food from St. Mary’s, Kreimeyer said they could expect to spend 20 cents per pound of food.
So far, organizers have dished out two truckloads of collected donations to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank. At the time, St. Vincent was running low on food and needed the extra donations or it would have cut down on the size of food boxes.
The remaining food is sitting organized and ready to go in a storage unit.
“We are waiting on them,” Kreimeyer said of food banks. “We have got tons and tons of food.”
PAF drive organizers expect donations to last through the summer.
Before going into Super Bowl weekend, the last weekend of the drive, donations were several thousand pounds below goal. A winter carnival held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Payson brought in 1,150 pounds and $1,350 in donations.
In addition, a door-to-door collection drive by the Boy Scouts netted several thousand more pounds and a soup kitchen at the Payson High School an added $300.
One Eagle Scout even managed to collect 850 pounds on his own.
“We were touch and go there for a while,” he said of donations. “We knew we were doing well, but didn’t know if we were going to make it.”
With this year’s drive such a success, Kreimeyer said the PAF drive committee might organize another food drive next year if needed.