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3,100 pounds given

Cynthia Hunt packs food donated during Friday’s community food drive. She and her husband, Chris Hunt, are volunteers with the food pantry at Higher Praise Worship Center.

By BOB HANSEN - bhansen@newsexaminer.com

Local shoppers donated another 3,100 pounds of groceries during Friday evening’s food drive at four local stores.

A box truck loaded with more donated food came to First Presbyterian Church Saturday morning, where volunteers had sorted the foodon tables, waiting for people from various agencies to come take it. 

On Nov. 16, the same food drive brought in more than 2,100 pounds of groceries and the box truck added 1,300 pounds of pre-cooked frozen chicken from a food processing plant in the area.

Eight food programs that serve hundreds of local residents benefit.

“Many of the pantries said, ‘We couldn’t do this by ourselves.’ People told us they like the idea of all of us working together,” Becky Marvel, leader of the Fayette County Food Policy Council, said. The council, a part of Fayette County Community Voices, organized the food drive.

As Cynthia Hunt packed boxes for the Higher Praise Worship Center food pantry, she said, “I was really surprised by the amount of food. It’s such a blessing.”

She said the food pantry normally buys food and “it leaves pretty quickly” in bags and boxes carried out by the pantry’s clientele, many of whom have children. 

Terri Wilhoite of Grace United Methodist Church said she liked the way this drive worked. “People knew what to buy,” she said to Mary Alice Geise as they loaded a hand truck with boxes of groceries.

The council stationed volunteers at the entrances to participating stores: Save A Lot, Kroger, Connersville IGA and Walmart. When shoppers entered, the volunteers gave them a list of groceries and personal care supplies most needed. On the way out, shoppers could donate what they had purchased.

“The stories are so phenomenal,” said Lea Ann Robinson, president of Community Voices. At Save A Lot, a woman donated a full grocery cart, went back into the store, and came back with another cart, eventually leaving five carts full. She told the astounded volunteers there that she’d just sold a house and wanted to share.

“So many people gave at a sacrifice,” giving an item or two because that’s what they could afford, Robinson said. Those gifts touched the volunteers as much as the larger ones.

Marvel said the Food Policy Council is discussing how to continue the community food drives. Many people contribute during the Thanksgiving to Christmas holiday period but the need is year-round, she said. The council is considering making the food drive a quarterly activity.

Part of what the drives accomplished is getting the various food programs working together, she and Robinson agreed, as well as bringing out volunteers from other community organizations.