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Donations needed at local food pantry

Peanut butter, corn and green beans are the norm, but every so often there is homegrown tomatoes, freshly ground corn and frozen turkey inside.

Volunteers at St. Vincent de Paul Ministries Food Pantry fill 50-pound boxes with the staples from the shelves at the old Serio’s Grocery, but occasionally, the charity will have access to extra items that have been donated or bought. Those kick the contents up a notch.

Extras like homegrown tomatoes out of the community garden, or bushels of sweet potatoes are a treat, said Jim Bonner, the food pantry director. Recently, someone sent in gallon bags of freshly ground cornmeal.

Volunteers use donated funds to purchase non-perishable food items and extras like toilet paper and laundry detergent to fill boxes for 60 to 80 families each month. They purchase the bulk of the food from Save-A-Lot, buying cases of vegetables at a time. They spend about $3,000 a month on food.

Families are limited to one box every six months, although sometimes it’s more often if an emergency arises. Those are handled on a case-by-case basis, he said.

“It’s enough food that a family could stretch it out for a few weeks,” he said.

Those who need assistance can leave a message at 601-833-2709. Volunteers return calls on Thursdays.

The St. Vincent de Paul Ministries Food Pantry is operated by St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.

St. Francis is one of four area organizations and churches that will receive assistance through the 15th annual Holiday Food Pantry Drive, which is a joint effort between Bank of Brookhaven and The Daily Leader.

The other groups that will be helped are Union Hall Baptist Church, the Greater Hope Foundation and Bethel AME.

The goal this year is to raise $10,000 by Dec. 14 to be distributed to the four pantries.

Donations will be accepted at both The Daily Leader and Bank of Brookhaven.