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October 11, 2011 8:30 am

Community food drive Wednesday night

Written by Tessa Schweigert

Loaves and Fishes pantry shelves depleted

Though it’s a bit too early for trick-or-treating, local youth will go door to door Wednesday night seeking edible items — not for themselves, but for Powell Valley Loaves and Fishes.

Dozens of volunteers will hit the streets in Powell from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, collecting food donations to help replenish the shelves at the community food pantry.

“Usage at the pantry was up tremendously during the summer months. We’ve depleted most of the food that was on our shelves,” said Cindy Balderas, treasurer for Powell Valley Loaves and Fishes.

In June, the pantry served 90 families for a total of 292 people — that’s up from 260 people in June 2010. During July, the pantry served 73 families, a total of 262 people, and in August, 64 families or 204 people.

Generally, summer usage tends to be higher, but “we’ve been consistently running at those figures all year long,” Balderas said.

The Boys and Girls Club will collect in neighborhoods surrounding the club from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Balderas encourages residents who are not home to leave donations on their front porches.

Though Wednesday’s drive focuses on homes within city limits, Balderas encouraged rural residents to drop off food donations in the barrels at Blair’s Market or Food Basket IGA. Monetary donations can be mailed to Loaves and Fishes, P.O. Box 992, Powell, WY 82435.

All donated food items must be professionally prepared and packaged.

The annual autumn event is Loaves and Fishes’ main food drive. The organization also depends on the U.S. Postal Service’s spring food drive and other local donations throughout the year.

Balderas said volunteers are designated to a certain area of town. She encouraged residents to give to the food drive, regardless of which group collects in your neighborhood.

Last year, residents turned away youth collecting food items because “they were waiting for their church to come and collect,” she said.

All donations go directly to Powell Valley Loaves and Fishes.

In addition to being donation-driven, Powell Valley Loaves and Fishes is operated entirely by volunteers, Balderas said.

“It’s a 365-day a year job that we do because there are people in our community who need help,” she said.

Balderas thanked volunteers for their continuing dedication to ensuring food is collected and then distributed to families in need.

“We need to step back and look at our volunteers who work at the pantry ... all their efforts are very much appreciated,” she said.

The community’s support also keeps the food pantry viable — from hunters who share their meat, to school children who collect food, to local churches that continually assist the pantry.

The food drive has fewer volunteers this year, and Balderas encouraged church groups, civic organizations and school clubs to consider helping with next year’s drive.

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