The Cullman Times annual Cares & Shares Food Drive benefiting Cullman Caring for Kids kicks off today, and donations are needed to help feed the people of Cullman County.
The food drive is now in its 11th year of providing support to local families in need of a helping hand during the holiday season.
Cullman Caring for Kids Executive Director Javon Daniel said the holiday season is usually the busiest time of year for the food bank, but this year has already been busy before the holidays even begin.
Just over the last three months, the food bank has provided assistance to 1,879 families, and many of those families are new or have come back to the food bank after some time away, he said.
That adds up to around 12-14 tons of food distributed every month. The food bank is funded and supplied solely from contributions from the community, so every donation counts when it comes to helping out Cullman County’s residents in need.
“We depend on the community,” he said. “Everything that we have at the food bank comes from the community.”
Canned goods, diapers, packaged foods such as macaroni and other items that keep for extended periods of time are needed each day at the food bank.
Every dollar donated to the food bank equals around seven pounds of food, so a monetary donation can provide a little more flexibility, but the food bank still needs canned foods on its shelves every day, Daniel said.
The food bank accepts canned foods that are up to two years past their sell-by dates, and USDA guidelines say the food is good for even longer than that, so anyone who wants to clean out their cabinets and bring in their old cans to The Times is encouraged to do so, Daniel said.
“It doesn’t stay at the food bank for long,” he said. “We’ll be more than happy to have it.”
Area schools, organizations, churches and individuals have donated thousands of pounds of food during Cares & Shares by bringing their donations to The Times, and last year’s campaign also brought in around $6,000 in monetary donations from local residents.
“It’s been very important to help us over the last 11 years,” Daniel said. “We look forward to a banner year.”
Bring donations to The Times, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., at 300 Fourth Avenue SE.
For additional information, call The Times at 256-734-2131 or Cullman Caring For Kids at 256-739-1111.
Tyler Hanes can be reached at 256-734-2131 ext. 138.