Cash donations to the Payson Area Food Drive have beat all expectations this year thanks to a number of large contributions from government agencies and families, but food collections have come up short.
Since the drive launched at Thanksgiving, donors have contributed $50,000 in cash and 4,300 pounds of food. The goals for this year’s drive were $25,000 and 25,000 pounds of food by Christmas for local food banks.
Drive treasurer John Wilson said he knew the $25,000 goal was too low since $54,000 was collected last year and the community has stepped forward to help since the drive launched in 2009.
“And by God this town has come through with flying colors,” he said at a recent council meeting in reference to the cash donations.
Still, food donations are markedly less.
During last year’s drive, organizers collected more than 55,000 pounds of food between Thanksgiving and Super Bowl Sunday.
This year, fewer collection boxes were distributed and the drive lost its chair and founder Roger Kreimeyer. In addition, PAFD organizers no longer added in the amount of food donated directly to the area’s two local food banks.
In years past, anytime someone dropped food off at Payson’s St. Vincent de Paul, it was counted into the drive’s overall total. That ruffled some feathers with St. Vincent’s presidents who said the local food drive shouldn’t get credit for all donations.
So this year, organizers agreed only to count food dropped off in PAFD-marked boxes.
Councilor Fred Carpenter, who is managing donated food, said he expects to see an increase in food donations before Super Bowl weekend. Area churches make a huge push for donations during an event known as Soup-er Bowl Sunday.
So far, only Community Presbyterian Church on Main Street has taken any donated food out of the PAFD storage unit. Last week, Carpenter said he gave them 500 pounds.
While all donations are accepted, Carpenter said canned meat, seafood, beans and fruit are especially needed.
Donation boxes are located at town hall and the Payson Police Department as well as several local businesses. Send donations to PAFD, P.O. Box 703, Payson, AZ 85547.