Every October for more than 30 years, kids have gone door-to-door in Powell to collect canned goods — a longtime community-wide effort to ensure shelves are replenished at Powell Valley Loaves …
Every October for more than 30 years, kids have gone door-to-door in Powell to collect canned goods — a longtime community-wide effort to ensure shelves are replenished at Powell Valley Loaves and Fishes going into the busy holiday season. But like so many large events in 2020, the annual food drive has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only is it a concern to organize dozens of volunteers to go door-to-door to collect donations, but all of those food items must be sorted and stored at the Powell Annex; in years past, volunteers have stood shoulder-to-shoulder in a crowded room to do so.
We understand the health concerns and logistical headache of planning a huge food drive in 2020, especially as Park County has seen COVID cases rise in recent weeks.
But here’s the good news: You can still easily support Loaves and Fishes, even if the fall food drive isn’t happening.
Food donations can be dropped off in receptacles at both local grocery stores — Blair’s Super Market and Mr. D’s Food Center. That means you don’t have to take the food all the way home, store it and remember to have it ready on a specific night to be collected. Once you’ve paid for groceries, you can just drop off non-perishable donations in the bins, and volunteers will collect it for Loaves and Fishes. It’s that simple.
The food pantry will then make sure all food items go to families and individuals in need. We know 2020 has been a difficult year for many. That’s why we can’t let our support for Loaves and Fishes waver. Instead, let’s make this a year our community floods the shelves with donations for the nonprofit.
If you are able to give, the pantry needs peanut butter, pasta, pancake mix, rice, cereal and canned goods, including fruits, vegetables, soups and tuna.
Loaves and Fishes also depends on monetary donations to provide fresh items — including milk, bread, eggs and local meat — for residents. Donations can be mailed to Loaves and Fishes at P.O. Box 992, Powell, WY 82435.
It’s encouraging to see how our community and those around the state have stepped up to support food pantries in 2020. A local photo show earlier this year raised $760 for Powell Valley Loaves and Fishes.
With the help of private donors, the Wyoming Hunger Initiative — led by First Lady Jennie Gordon — has supported nonprofits around the state, including in Park County. Through the Food from the Field program, hundreds of pounds of game meat have been donated. Ag producers are also helping combat food insecurity through the Food from the Farm and Ranch program.
Meanwhile, the Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies has dispatched mobile pantries across the state to help amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In another silver lining, all local children can receive free breakfasts and lunches through Park County School District No. 1. For kids who don’t attend public school — including those under age 5 — free meals are served at Powell Valley Healthcare through a partnership with the school district. The free meals will be provided for the entire school year, the USDA recently announced.
In addition, Backpack Blessings continues to provide food for local schoolchildren on the weekends, thanks to numerous volunteers representing five Powell churches.
The American Legion in Powell also hosts a monthly commodities distribution, which is available to low-income residents and others in need from around the area. The next distribution will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the American Legion Hall.
Over the summer, Glad Tidings Church partnered with Convoy of Hope, a faith-based nonprofit, to give away 21,000 pounds of meat and cheese. Within hours, all 1,100 boxes were distributed as a steady stream of vehicles poured into the church’s parking lot.
We know this is a community that cares. While a lot of hardships and health struggles in 2020 may be outside our control, hunger should not be one of them. Support our local food pantry and other nonprofits to help ensure those in need do not go hungry this winter.