By LIBBY CLUETT
Area youth competed in the Palo Pinto Farm Bureau’s food drive to provide a bounty of food for the county’s hungry citizens.
During the Texas Farm Bureau’s annual Food Connection Week, the PPCFB had a contest to see which local agricultural students could collect the most non-perishable food items.
Three teams vied for the prizes – cash for the club or organization – and to help supply their community food banks. The net result was 1,000 pieces of non-perishables for four area food programs.
Coming in third place was Mineral Wells 4H, collecting 150 food items. In second was Sturdivant 4H, collecting 252 items. Officers Jessica Baeza and Grace Baeza accepted a $150 check from Farm Bureau President Greg Gilbert, and they promptly gave their prize money to the First Christian Church Food Pantry.
Mineral Wells High School’s agriculture students won the contest by collecting 571 food items during the week. FFA officers Caylor Banks and Whitney Ratto accepted the $200 Farm Bureau check, which they also turned over to the Backpack Buddies program, associated with the First United Methodist Church Food Bank, because, they said, there are a lot of Mineral Wells ISD students in the program.
Tammy Lovell, who administers the FUMC Food Bank and Backpack Buddies, said there is a great need for food in Palo Pinto County.
First Christian Church Food Pantry administrator Genie Quincy was seemingly so delighted when the Beaza girls said they would hand over their check, she walked up and hugged them both.
The FCC Food Pantry feeds about 600 families a month and serves citizens throughout the county, including southwest to Strawn and north to Graford.
The contest food items were split four ways. In addition to FUMC and FCC, a quarter went to the Gordon Community Food Pantry, which feeds about 73 families a month and operates a thrift store in Gordon, on Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
In addition to these three groups, a new program, the Santo Food Bank, headed by First Baptist Church of Santo received a quarter of the student’s collection. Pastor Jim Looby accepted the donations for the fledgling program.
Looby said the church started the program six months ago, after they found out there were Santo area children who were not eating at home and that families were traveling to Mineral Wells and Gordon food banks. Currently, he said they feed about 10 families monthly, but said the number is “steadily climbing” and he expects to reach as many as 50 families.