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Column: Lions food drive more important than ever

A cutback in grants, coupled with a depletion in donations, have combined to place the Yavapai Food Bank between the proverbial rock and a hard place. And the food bank’s executive director, Ann Wilson, is hoping for a successful drive being conducted this Saturday, April 16, by area Lions clubs, plus a hike in added donations from individuals, in order to alleviate the situation.

The food bank “has greater needs this year than in times past due to the fact that we were not given the opportunity to bid on a grant of $10,000 that we received for the past four years,” Wilson said. “That was money that had to be spent by the end of June – right at the time of year when we began running out of canned goods and other non-perishable items such as boxed meals, pastas, etc.

“We also lost the Feinstein matching funds grant that usually came in around the end of June or early July,” she added, “because he didn’t offer it anymore. It was a nationwide grant to all food banks and helped many if them through the hardest months of the year, but he decided to help toward another cause. In our case, this amounted to around $2,000 to $2,500. We also have not had the golf fundraiser donation this year that came to $5,000, as well as another grant that was about the same amount.”

Add to that, “For some reason it just happens that donations have been down this year – even over the holidays, compared to years past – so we are looking at a pretty bleak summer. St. Mary’s Food Bank out of Phoenix,” she continued, “sends a truck up here once a week, but the donations are all perishable items consisting mostly of produce and various other miscellaneous items, but no canned goods or boxed meals. These are our standby items to supplement our food boxes. Produce doesn’t always last very long even though we have a large cooler room, and doesn’t provide a very good variety.”

Paul Chastain of the Prescott Noon Lions, who is coordinating Saturday’s drive, notes that the Yavapai Food Bank “is not the only victim (of the shortfall)”, as it also “helps small food banks such as Yarnell and Cordes Lakes.” He reports that the hours of the drive will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and that at conclusion of the event the collection trailers at each location will be routed to the food bank, where they will be emptied by its employees and volunteers.

The locations and clubs heading them up include:

• Safeways on Willow Creek and White Spar roads in Prescott: Prescott Noon Lions.

• Wal-Mart on North Highway 69 in Prescott: Prescott Evening Lions.

• Wal-Mart on Gail Gardner Way in Prescott: Prescott Sunrise Lions and Prescott High School’s Leo club.

• Safeway on North Highway 89 in Chino Valley: both Chino Valley Lions clubs.

“The food drive that the Lions clubs are conducting on the 16th is very important this year – probably more so than even in years past,” stated Executive Director Wilson. “We hope the community will be very generous and support this effort.”

Contact the columnist at editorial@prescottaz.com.

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