The Elmore County Food Pantry’s annual Taste of Elmore County event has been canceled because of COVID-19, said board director Jonathan Yarboro, who is also pastor at First Presbyterian Wetumpka.
Yarboro said the board was intending to proceed with a scaled down event by selling fewer tickets and making it a two-day event. However, with positive COVID cases still on the rise, Yarboro said the cancellation was decided when the board met for its December meeting.
The event is held every year on the last Monday in January.
The event, which usually raises $8,000 to $10,000 for the food pantry, features food samples donated by 20-25 area restaurants and caterers. Residents purchase tickets to the event for a chance to taste local fare.
Local businesses serve as sponsors for the event so that the pantry can keep as much of the proceeds as possible. Yarboro said attendance at past events has topped 500 people.
In addition to safety concerns, Yarboro said the board didn’t want to place additional strain on local restaurants.
“Given that restaurants have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, we felt it would be unethical to ask them to donate their food and time when so many of them are struggling,” he said.
Thanks to year round supporters of the pantry, Yarboro said the ministry can make it through the year without the funds generated by the fundraiser.
“The ministry is not in jeopardy,” he said. “We don’t think it’s wise to continue on with events like this unless it is absolutely necessary. We don’t want to put others at risk by hosting the event.”
Yarboro said the board is humbled by and deeply appreciative of the community’s continued support of the pantry.
“We do not receive any government funding,” Yarboro said. “We are completely reliant on private donations and we’re so blessed that we’ve continued to receive support in the midst of these unprecedented times.”
Yarboro said the event will return in 2022.