WILLIAMS - With the winter holidays right around the corner, agencies throughout Arizona have begun increasing their efforts to help those in need of assistance. For some families in the city of Williams, the Williams Food Bank is making a big difference.
The Food Bank, which has been in operation since 2004, provides food to local residents in need all year round, helping to feed about 180 families, two times a month on Fridays. The Food Bank looks like a miniature grocery store. "Shoppers" walk through the store pulling items off the shelves.
Williams Food Bank Director Guy Mikkelsen said it is important to keep the shelves stocked with a good variety of food items.
"We don't want people coming home with things they don't want to eat. 'If they choose it, they'll use it' is one of our slogans," he said. "The food drives bring in a lot of variety. People love having a choice. Everything on the shelf is different and they can pick out their favorite thing from many choices."
The Williams Elementary-Middle School is currently holding a food drive, as is the Forest Service. The Williams Safeway store will be putting bins out to collect for the Food Bank as well.
Mikkelsen said he expects to distribute approximately 300 Thanksgiving food boxes this year. This will be the sixth year Thanksgiving meals have been available to families that require a little extra assistance over the holidays. The boxes, which will be handed out Nov. 16, 17, 19 and 20, contain foods traditionally associated with the Thanksgiving meal such as yams, green beans, instant mashed potatoes and boxed stuffing. Donations of these traditional items are appreciated but other items help to keep the pantry stocked with plenty of options.
"The community gets really involved in helping us do this because it's thousands of pounds of food," Mikkelsen said.
The most expensive portion of the Thanksgiving boxes is the turkey.
"We say if someone wants to sponsor a turkey, they are about $10 a piece. That's what we get them for," Mikkelsen said.
Mikkelsen is hosting a Williams Chamber of Commerce mixer at the Food Bank today from 5-7 p.m. featuring a 50/50 drawing, food and drinks. As always, food items can be donated at the event.
Tomorrow from 5-8 p.m. the Williams KFC/Taco Bell will be donating 10 percent of their sale to the food bank.
Donations to the Williams Food Bank are appreciated all year. Program Director Angie Mikkelsen can be reached at 607-7915 for information on volunteering opportunities.
The Williams Food Bank's income guideline to qualify for assistance is 185 percent of the poverty level. A single person will qualify for assistance with an income below $1,600 per month and a family of two will qualify at a monthly income below $2,246.
Advanced sign-up to receive a Thanksgiving Food Box is required. Call (928) 635-2913 to reserve a meal.