Penny Gilmore, a St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank volunteer, checks out the mostly empty shelves. Local food banks no longer get extra food from the Valley.
Photo by Andy Towle.
A week after the Payson Area Food Drive kicked off, things have already picked up.
Organizers say two anonymous donors have pledged to match the next $15,000 donated to the food drive.
The community has until Dec. 25 to make donations to trigger the promised match.
Drive chair Roger Kreimeyer said if everyone in the community donated a dollar, they could easily reach the goal and a $30,000 donation to local food banks would go along way.
“The food banks are really struggling right now,” he said. “Their shelves are nearly bare because Valley and government food shipments have all but stopped. They need the community’s support now more than ever.”
Mail donations to PAFD, P.O. Box 703, Payson, AZ 85547, checks payable to PAFD.
This year, the PAFD is recognized by the state as serving the working poor and is a qualifying charitable organization for the Arizona Working Poor Tax Credit. That means taxpayers may qualify for a tax credit of up to $200 for individuals or $400 for those married filing jointly.
The tax credit for community groups that help the working poor is separate from the school tax credit on which Payson schools rely to fund most of their extracurricular programs — including sports, band, drama, clubs and other student activities.
Officials say most taxpayers do not take advantage of either the school or the working poor tax credit.
Statistics from the Arizona Department of Revenue indicate only 5.5 percent of all qualifying taxpayers fill out form 321 for the Working Poor Tax Credit.
Meanwhile, food drive organizers are working to get more collection boxes out into the community. So far, donation boxes are at most grocery stores and government buildings.
All food donations are welcome, but especially canned fruits and vegetables, pasta, soups, canned meat, chili and peanut butter. Personal items are also in high demand, including shampoo/conditioner, toothpaste, toilet paper and diapers.
This year, the PAFD committee hopes to collect 65,000 pounds of food and $50,000 by Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3.