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Summer food drive for Pantry

City of Santa Clarita partners with SCV Food Pantry to host fifth annual summer food drive

Posted: July 28, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 28, 2013 2:00 a.m.

The fifth annual city of Santa Clarita hosted food drive for the SCV Food Pantry will be held now through the end of August.

 

Keeping the shelves stocked with food for Santa Clarita Valley neighbors in need is less challenging during the winter holidays when the "spirit of giving" overtakes the community.

However, the need for families to eat remains unabated during the summer months.

"The need for food actually increases during the summer months because children are off from school and eating at home," said Belinda Crawford, executive director of the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry.

To help the SCV Food Pantry meet the needs of its clientele the city of Santa Clarita will host its fifth annual food drive to collect non-perishable food items food donations for residents in need.

The city has placed blue collection barrels at six locations in Santa Clarita. The food drive will run through August.

"The annual summer food drive comes at a critical time of year and enables us to restock depleted food items. Our mission is no child should go to bed hungry in the Santa Clarita Valley and this effort allows us to work together to accomplish big things," said Crawford.

Crawford has been at the Food Pantry for 11 years.

Items most desired by the Food Pantry include: Tuna, peanut butter, canned meats, fruit, tomatoes, dried soups, cereal, macaroni and cheese, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, bar soap, diapers and feminine hygiene products.

Currently the SCV Food Pantry serves more than 5,500 clients a year, said Crawford.

"In recent years we’ve seen more people that were middle class and have told us, ‘I used to donate to the Food Pantry’ I can’t believe I’m here," she said.

In recent years the need from seniors has increased to 11 percent from 3 to 4 percent, Crawford said.

The SCV Food Pantry runs an active senior outreach program, founded in 2006, where it distributes food to seniors in need at seven locations throughout the SCV.

Lily Wolfe, SCV Food Pantry senior outreach coordinator, has been with the Pantry four years.

"I really love helping people," she said. "For the seniors sometimes just stopping to say hello will make their day."

Randy Guitar, a driver who picks up donations from area stores for the Food Pantry, said helping children is important to him.

"I really enjoy helping families," he said.

Food Pantry volunteer Sandy Henningfield said she enjoys handing out the fresh produce.

"I had too much time on my hands when I retired so I decided to volunteer," she said. "I love it when the little kids come in, I tease them, they tease me, it’s a lot of fun."

"Community members can help improve the lives of those facing difficult times by contributing items as part of the city’s annual food drive," said Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar. "I’ve worked with the SCV Food Pantry for many years. They are a great organization."

The SCV Food Pantry was founded in 1986 to distribute food to low-income residents. The Food Pantry relies on donations from the community to provide supplemental food on a short-term basis to qualified, local residents.

The effort began with the Santa Clarita Valley Hunger Coalition which chartered a Food Pantry Formation Committee that included Hod and Mary Wadsworth, Rev. Lynn Jay (St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church) and Sharon Rodes-Wickett (Santa Clarita United Methodist Church).

The volunteer-based nonprofit SCV Food Pantry found its first home at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in space donated at the church.

On the first day of operation, the SCV Food Pantry had one item in stock, a bottle of cooking oil, that was shared between two client families.

Since that day the SCV Food Pantry has distributed more than $1.3 million worth of food — approximately 2,000 pounds each day of operation.

The Food Pantry moved to its current location on Railroad Avenue in 1992.

"We are again facing growing pains," said Crawford. "The current facility is no longer adequate at only 3,000 square feet."

Crawford said the Food Pantry also needs monetary donations.

"When we run out certain items we need to be able to buy the items we need," she said.

Crawford said the Food Pantry has a "very good relationship" with SCV supermarkets.

"We get day old bread and pastries and donations of fresh produce," she said. "That is so important for growing children."

In addition, fresh produce is donated by those farming plots at the Santa Clarita Community Gardens at Central Park.

"The children are so excited to get an apple or an orange," Crawford said.

The Food Pantry also has a "milk money" program.

"We’re investing in the future health of children in the Santa Clarita Valley," she said.

Crawford said the SCV is an "affluent community."

"No child should go to bed hungry in our neighborhoods," she said. "We should all be able to pitch in and help."

Non-perishable items may also be directly donated to the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry, located at 24133 Railroad Ave., Newhall. Donations are accepted 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday.

For information on the SCV Food Pantry, visit scvfoodpantry.org or contact Belinda Crawford of the Food Pantry at 661-255-9078.

mbuttelman@signalscv.com

661-287-5590

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