With more than a month left in the Payson Area Food Drive, local donations have been so good in 2011, the 55,000-pound goal was nearly met last week.
Organizers have decided to up the goal 10,000 pounds hoping to raise enough food by Super Bowl Sunday to support two area food banks well into the new year.
PAFD chair Roger Kreimeyer said it is crucial to collect as much food as possible
since Payson’s largest food bank, St. Vincent de Paul, has not received a shipment of food from the Valley in well over a month.
Payson’s St. Vincent normally receives 12,000 pounds of food a month from the Valley St. Vincent, but demand has been so high throughout the state, it has no extra pallets to share.
“So we went from supplementing to supplying them with food,” Kreimeyer said.
In addition, federal shipments of food the second Monday of each month from United have been half their size in recent months, down to 7,000 pounds, said Michael Haynes, Payson St. Vincent’s food bank manager.
“We wouldn’t have much to give out if it wasn’t for the food drive,” Haynes said.
On average, the food bank hands out 30,000 pounds of food a month to area residents.
If the PAFD is successful in raising 65,000 pounds, Haynes said the supply should last through April with other donations and purchased food making up the difference.
In November, St. Vincent handed boxes
out to feed nearly 2,000 people, with each family receiving a 45-pound food box on average.
St. Vincent continues to see new people sign up each week, with more “working poor” needing a hand, Haynes said.
This group includes those that have a job, but due to fewer hours or cut wages, don’t make enough to pay the bills and buy groceries.
“We are seeing these people much more than we have in the past,” he said.
While supplies are down and need is up, Haynes reported donations are helping keep the food bank afloat.
Kreimeyer agreed that donations were outstanding last year. This is the third year for the PAFD and the first time the 55,000-pound goal has been met so quickly.
“We are very pleased with the progress at this time,” Kreimeyer said. “It has exceeded last year’s progress but because the demand is higher and the supply lower, we are concerned we will not have sufficient supplies to get through the year.”
Haynes said he was concerned raising the goal could irk some residents, but agreed an extra 10,000 pounds would be well used.
Last year, the money raised during the PAFD was stretched out to October. “We want to be stockpiled and ready,” he said.
To donate, drop off food at any PAFD marked box located at businesses and grocery stores throughout town.
Send checks to PAFD, P.O. Box 703, Payson, AZ 85547.