Food for thought: More about the Empty Pantry Fund than you think | news

Vacation joy can conjure up many mental images, but meeting friends and family over a heavily laden table is probably the first thing people think of.

These include the board members of the Empty Pantry Fund, but volunteering in an organization that aims to bring food to the tables of the needy residents of Blount County for Christmas is also on the minds of the board members. EPF is a year-long endeavor that requires constant planning, from fundraising to distributing food baskets, more than 1,300 this year, organizers said.

Adjustments to the contents of the food baskets are another factor and will depend on the availability and cost of the items, especially if the COVID-19 disruptions persist, said EPF President Lon Fox.

“COVID continues to affect the Empty Pantry Fund,” he said. “Again, we will be buying 3-pound chilled hams for smaller, unrefrigerated items due to supply chain issues.” Before 2020, two 1-pound canned hams were put in food baskets; In 2020 these products were not available and EPF was replacing frozen ham at a significantly higher cost. This required adjustments to the budget and the composition of the food baskets and will continue in 2021.

Adjustments will continue to be made as the board is informed of bottlenecks on some items.

“We are forced to buy branded products that cost more than private label because there are no private label or generic brands available,” said Fox. “And in general, food prices have increased from last year to this year; Have you been to the grocery store lately?

“We’re trying again to improve and update our grocery baskets to include more items than in previous years. We’ll be packing over 1,300 baskets and they will contain more branded and new items that weren’t in previous baskets. “


Tony Clark, a youth volunteer with the Empty Pantry Fund and currently the EPF Treasurer, has another perspective on the EPF: unloading the articulated trucks that deliver the groceries to the Tennessee Army National Guard Armory, and then delivering the groceries to the Packing. Clark said the process is a lot more complicated than it sounds.

“Many years ago, I worked for the Macy’s distribution center in Atlanta, Georgia, where I was the shipping manager. I learned many invaluable lessons in this job, ”he said. “When the voluntary task of receiving the food trucks became available with the Empty Pantry Fund, I took the opportunity.”

That position was previously held by Boyd Parrott, a staunch supporter of the EPF for nearly 40 years until his death in 2013.

“I really had no idea about the many jobs Boyd did under his ‘unofficial’ title of ‘the Food Guy’,” said Clark. “I quickly found out that he also did a lot of other voluntary work”, including returning grocery pallets to Kroger, coordinating with the armory, disposing of garbage and cardboard boxes, and procuring the sturdy nylon sacks in which the food is packed, and much more.

The food is delivered to the armory early on December 15th. Clark said. “I’ll meet the Kroger tractors and trailers at 7:00 am with some other volunteers, and we’ll unload and stack all the groceries in rows for Packing Day on December 16th. Sounds pretty easy until you start counting all the doses. Grocery Bags, etc. ”to confirm that the correct number of items have been delivered for 1,300+ grocery baskets.

Parrott has left a few big footsteps, Clark said. “I am privileged to have done this volunteer role with the Empty Pantry Fund. I just hope I do the job half as well as Boyd. “

Donations received since the previous listing include:



• Joe Roebuck and SCCY Firearms, $ 5,000

• In memory of French B. Lawson and Margaret Lawson of Lynn and Larry Ladd, $ 100

• In memory of FB Ladd and Rosa S. Ladd of Lynn and Larry Ladd, $ 100

• In memory of first cousins ​​Rod Shore and Tom Luckey, who were born three weeks apart, $ 300

• In honor of Donna Millsaps and her crew for cooking and eating for the sick, $ 100

• Sandra and Carl Townsend, $ 100

• Col. William Haynes (retired) and Caroline Haynes, $ 1,000

• In memory of Etta Mae Chambers and Vaughn Chambers, $ 100

• In loving memory of Tristen Keller, $ 25

• C. Rebecca Laughmiller, $ 25

• In memory of Louise Trindell, $ 25

• Gary and Janice Wade, $ 100

• Maryville Walmart employee, $ 1,000

• Dianne Richmond (in lieu of Christmas presents from Joseph and Barbara Weinbrecht), $ 50

• In memory of Vernon Petree and Mike Delozier of Lon and Sally Fox, $ 50

• In memory of Betty and Pete Lobetti and Mabel “Mimi” Fox from Lon and Sally Fox $ 50

• AMVETS post no. 22, $ 500

The following donations were made via PayPal:

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