January 22 at 1:34pm

LDS food drives fill pantry shelves at the right time

Credit the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Poway and Escondido with a great sense of timing, incredible generosity and extraordinary organization as they filled the shelves at Interfaith Community Services with food during the holiday season.

The Poway and Escondido stakes of the church combined to donate more than 20,000 pounds of food in separate drives last fall. The Escondido church members also donated 105 turkeys and two hams for use during Thanksgiving Day meals at Interfaith and for families in need.

The drives this year were an expansion over the donations of previous years, as organizers rallied their congregants to give more than they had before.

Bob Krause, who served as coordinator of the Poway Stake drive for the first time, set a goal to top the previous year’s donation of 10,000 pounds of food by 50 percent.

“The former guy who ran it, Jeff Godwin, sat with me and gave me the lowdown on what to do,” said Krause. “I took what he started and expanded on it.”

Krause got some help from a friend who works with the Landsberg Orora packaging company, which donated a large number of corrugated bins that were placed in foyers in churches in Poway and Ramona where food could be dropped off. About 1,000 reusable fabric bags from Interfaith were handed out to congregants.

“We made flyers for our weekly programs for the 12 congregations in the Poway Stake. We also made announcements from the pulpit encouraging people,” said Krause. “Most of the benefits came from working with the youth programs. The kids in the church are involved in service projects. What better way is there for them to help than collecting food for Interfaith?”
Youth group members took the blue bags and knocked on doors in their neighborhoods, introducing themselves and telling residents they were collecting food for ICS. If nobody was home, they would leave a bag on the door with a flyer explaining that they were collecting for people in need and would come back to pick up the bags.

“Some of them had phenomenal success,” said Krause. “Bags would be sitting on the porch waiting.”

The Poway Stake food drive went on for four weeks in November. Every Monday morning a truck would come from Interfaith to pick up donations and leave practically overflowing. By the end, about 15,400 pounds of food had been collected.

LDS churches in Escondido, Valley Center and San Marcos combined to collect more than 5,000 pounds of food along with the turkeys and hams in a drive-thru drop-off event Nov. 18. ICS trucks were sent to Escondido and San Marcos to receive the donated food. Leaders of the church were present at the sites to lend their encouragement, said Jeff Chumbley, chairman of the Escondido Stake food drive.

“Monday night is our family home evening night. We thought we would create a lesson out of it so kids could see how important it is to help the needy,” Chumbley explained. “It’s a great family activity. We saw a lot of families in cars (dropping off food). It was great to see that.”

The large number of donated turkeys was quite beneficial, allowing Interfaith to hand out more vouchers for clients of the social services department than in previous years, said Jerry Morgan, program manager for basic needs. The early timing of the drive allowed ICS to distribute the turkeys well in advance of Thanksgiving.

Timing has worked well before for Chumbley and Interfaith. Last summer, following the church’s Boy Scout camp, organizers found themselves with around 100 gallons of extra milk.

“I called (Interfaith) and said, ‘Hey, you don’t have any need for milk, do you?’ They said, ‘You wouldn’t believe it, we were just talking about giving (an employee) money to buy some because we didn’t have enough for the weekend,” Chumbley explained.

Morgan gives high praise to the LDS church members for the size and dependability of their food drives and other contributions to Interfaith.

“Anything the LDS church does, you can count on it. Every year, it’s ‘Let’s exceed our goals from the previous year,’” he said. “What we’ve grown to appreciate from the LDS church is that if we’re in dire straits and we get a hold of them, when they say they are going to do it, they are going to do it. I’ve never heard them say no.”