Still Time To Fill The Food Bank Boxes

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As the food drive ends Super Bowl Sunday, organizers are pushing for one last round of donations, hoping to wrap up the drive with enough food to carry local food banks through at least part of the year.

So far, donations have been steady since the drive kicked off Thanksgiving weekend.

A $30,000 goal was met several weeks ago after a $3,400 donation from a pilots’ group rounded out the total to $31,798. Food contributions have also been strong with donations nearly meeting the 55,000-pound goal last month. Organizers decided things were going so well they bumped the food goal up 10,000 pounds.

On Monday, the Payson Area Food Drive was 4,830 pounds short of hitting that goal. Residents have until Feb. 4 to donate. Drop food contributions off at any PAFD marked box located at businesses and government agencies around town. Checks can be sent to PAFD, P.O. Box 703, Payson, AZ 85547.

PAFD chair Roger Kreimeyer said although the official financial goal has been met, organizers are hoping to hit the $35,000 mark.

The group donated that amount to local food banks last year through a combination of funds from the 2010 and 2009 food drives.

However, there are no donations left over from last year’s drive. Those funds were spent by October 2011 due to increased demand.

“We are extremely grateful for all the donations. They will go a long way in meeting our goal: No hungry families in Payson in 2012,” he said.

“Some people think the drive is over, but we are hoping for one last push in food and monetary donations.”

St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank volunteers say they are seeing an increase in need from working families.

These families typically have one or more parents with a job, but due to decreased hours or lower wages, are unable to cover bills and rent and buy food.

They turn to St. Vincent for help. The food bank has seen an increase every year and along with that, St. Vincent has had to expand. The group added additional storage to food bank facilities and opened more days each week. Organizers worry one day they will have to expand again if the economy does not turn around soon.

With increased demand and fewer supplies at food banks like St. Vincent, the donations made to PAFD are crucial, Kreimeyer said.

On Wednesday, a large crowd turned out at Chili’s at the all-day Give Back event to aid the PAFD. Chili’s donated 10 percent of sales from guests that dined in the restaurant to help fight hunger in Payson and surrounding communities.

Payson Mayor Kenny Evans even stopped by the restaurant twice to encourage guests to contribute.

The event brought in $200, according to Becky Rhodes, Chili’s manager.

The Payson High School Honor Society held a food drive recently and Kreimeyer said those donations are much appreciated.

On Feb. 5, local churches are collecting donations throughout the day as part of Soup-er Bowl Sunday. Kreimeyer encourages everyone to donate at least two cans of food and a dollar.

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