New leadership takes helm at Selma Area Food Bank

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 28, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

The torch of leadership has passed at the Selma Area Food Bank, the principal supplier of food for the hungry in Dallas and three neighboring counties.

J.D. Parks of Selma has been named new executive director of

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Selma Area Food Bank.

The appointment was announced by the board following Parks’ assumption of duties Aug. 1.

Outgoing Executive Director George A. “Buddy” Wiltsie, whose last official day was Aug. 15, was honored at a regular meeting of the board on that day for four years’ service to the food bank as executive director.

The food bank was founded in 1993 by the United Way of Selma & Dallas County and Wiltsie was involved from the beginning as a board member.

The food bank has since been separately incorporated as a nonprofit agency and continues to receive funding from the United Way.

A standing ovation followed the presentation of a plaque – “The Silver Fork Award” –

and warm remarks by board chair Miller Childers.

“I want to thank the board for giving me four years here at the food bank,” Wiltsie said.

The Selma Area Food Bank receives the vast majority of the food, which it distributes through 69 agencies in four counties – Dallas, Marengo, Perry and Wilcox, from the Montgomery Area Food Bank.

The remainder comes through contributions of donated food and cash by local individuals and groups.

Major annual drives include the fall school food drive in the city, county and private schools, and the spring collection by postal employees.

Many churches, other groups and individuals give food, as well as cash contributions, on an ongoing basis.

The quarterly unity service sponsored by area churches dedicates each offering to the food bank. Wiltsie noted that the total from the last two services was in excess of $1,200.

Wiltsie singled out Jay Minter Farms for providing the food bank with substantial quantities of fresh produce.

The food bank does not give food directly to individuals but to the agencies in the four-county area, such as the Christian Outreach Alliance, which operates a Thursday morning program from its small Church Street location between Water and Alabama avenues.

The alliance is supported by the downtown and other area churches.

The food bank handles an enormous amount of food during the course of a year – 1,097,212 pounds, according to Parks, who had just received the total as of June 30.

Like Wiltsie, Parks, a native of Marietta, Ga., came to the food bank with extensive background in the food industry.

Parks graduated from Shorter College in Georgia and holds a master of science degree in food technology and science from the University of Tennessee.

Prior to coming to Selma in 1998 to work for American Candy as director of purchasing, he spent 22 years with Nabisco, holding a variety of positions.

Parks joked that his food career began in his father’s restaurant where he worked from a very early age.

As food bank executive director, Parks will have oversight of the entire operation, as did Wiltsie.

Wiltsie said he was pleased with his years at the food bank, noting they had moved the balance sheet from red to black and that improvements had been made in operations and service, as well as the 8,200-square-foot office and warehouse.

Wiltsie also expressed gratitude for the hard work of the board during his tenure.

Parks commented on the skill and effectiveness of the warehouse employees. “Whenever I make a mistake, they know it and they’re very nice in the way that they’re helping me learn the ropes,” he said.

Wiltsie is currently working on site at the office and warehouse located at 497 Oak St. as a volunteer, helping Parks get acquainted with all the intricacies of operations.

Long-time resource developer Cissy Chaffin, who is the chief assistant to the executive director, is continuing at the food bank in that role.

“The most fun job I’ve ever had,” said J.D. Parks, standing on a ladder in the food bank warehouse, handing some food containers to a representative from one of the food bank’s agencies.

For further information call (334) 872-4111. Tax-deductible gifts may be sent to: Selma Area Food Bank, P.O. Box 2513, Selma, AL 36702.