Food back collects thousands of pounds of food

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Buddy Wiltse, executive director of Selma Area Food Bank, is smiling at the end of the Christmas holiday season, and sitting on a mountain of donated food — 15,000 pounds worth — most of which came from the 31 city, county and private schools that participated in the annual November food drive. He pronounced it to be “the best November drive ever.”

An additional 3,410 pounds of food was collected in November and December from other sources.

This year, because of persistent shortages, the schools were urged to collect food for the whole month, and it really paid off for the food bank, which is the major supplier of foodstuffs to area food pantries and other agencies distributing food, and for those who need the food.

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Wiltse was especially pleased with the amount of canned vegetables, fruit, fish and meat that was received through the school drives. These are the items that are in especially short supply and continue to be needed throughout the year.

Also, in response to previous appeals, $2,085 in donations were received — over and above the funds that come from regular sources of support such as the downtown churches. The advantage of tax-deductible tax donations, he said, is that it enables the food bank to fill gaps immediately, at the lowest price possible, primarily from the Montgomery Area Food Bank, Selma’s principal supplier — at 6 cents a pound.

And then there were other unexpected gifts this Christmas season from individual donors and groups, such as 10 turkeys and two cases of vegetables.

Several thousand pounds of deer meat have also been received and distributed here at the height of the hunting season.

When questioned about smaller amounts of foods being received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has contributed to shortages, Wiltse said he had no additional information. And the quantity of Montgomery-area reclaim products, still usable food that grocery stores have removed from their shelves, is still down also.

Wiltse expressed the hope that with the passing of the holiday season, the needs of the hungry would not be forgotten and he encouraged groups to consider year-round food drives.