Elmore County Food Pantry board director Jonathan Yarboro, who is also pastor at First Presbyterian Wetumpka, was thankful for the sold-out crowd gathered at the Wetumpka Civic Center for the ninth annual Taste of Elmore County.
“Please know how grateful we are for all that you make possible for people who are food insecure,” he said to the crowd. “We are averaging between 600 and 700 families a month. We average between 22,000 and 25,000 pounds of food a month being given to families in need.”
The line to get in went nearly to the road and the parking lot was at capacity as attendees continued to arrive well into the event, resulting in spillover parking in neighboring lots. Numerous food vendors ran out of food before the end of the evening.
The annual marquee event for the organization typically raises $12,000 to $20,000, according to food pantry director Kathy Hall.“The funding from this event will go back to pay down the loan on the building,” Hall said. “That is the biggest thing for us — to get the building paid off.”
Yarboro said, “We managed to get our mortgage on our building down to $125,000,” he said. “We started at $450,000 and we are paying it off.”
Hall said the last few of the 500 tickets available for the event were purchased the morning before the event.
Wil Lanun, owner of Grumpy Dog, has attended the event as a food vendor for six years and said he enjoys the fellowship of the event.
“All the new people at the event I get to meet and to introduce myself to them,” he said. “And all the other people I’ve seen over the years, we get to talk and catch up. It’s kind of like a family reunion.”
Board member Lane Young has volunteered with the organization for three years.
He said everyone can do more to support those less fortunate.
“The thought that there are people out there that are needy and we are doing what we can to give them a hand,” Young said. “Quite frankly, we can all do more. At least we are doing something in our little piece of Alabama.”
Yarboro said the annual event is key to keeping the pantry’s doors open.
“You have to consider that the food pantry receives all of its financial support from businesses, churches and individuals,” he said. “There is not government funding. So, when you have an event that can generate $12,000 to $20,000 for the food pantry, that is pretty amazing.”
According to Yarboro, approximately 20% of the county’s residents do not know where their next meal is coming from.
“There are approximately 12,000 food insecure people in Elmore County,” he said. “Right now, we are serving only a small percentage of that (600 to 700 people each month). We are always working to looking at that to grow.”
The evening entertainment was provided by bluegrass band The Back Porch Pickers. The band played country, gospel and bluegrass standards.