Editor's Note: Third in a nine-part series, publishing on Thursdays about nonprofit organizations and agencies which benefit from the annual Groceries for Good campaign. The 2019 Groceries for Good food drive will be held on Nov. 23.
By DAVID B. SNOW
The Salvation Army is one of several area locations that has a food pantry available for those in need, one where donations from the annual Groceries for Good food drive in November helps to keep a big supply of food on hand.
However, there is another way that the local Salvation Army benefits from Groceries for Good all year long: gift cards. Capt. Johnny Horton, one of the commanders for the Paducah Salvation Army, said the monthly donation program at Banks Market helps with its youth programs.
Banks Market customers can give a donation to Groceries for Good any month of the year, not just in November, at the checkout. Each month, the donations collected go to one of the nine participating nonprofits and pantry agencies -- including the Salvation Army -- in Paducah and McCracken County.
On Wednesday nights, the Salvation Army has a youth outreach program that includes character-building programs, recreational activities and a meal.
"We get gift cards from Groceries for Good donations they collect (all year long, separate from the November food drive)," Horton said, of the Banks Market collection, "and we use those gift cards to go to get groceries for that meal. So, these gift cards feed all of these kids for the entire year."
On average, 40 to 50 young people, ranging in age from 5 to 16, come to the community event each week. The Salvation Army gets help from Groceries for Good to feed their bodies while the Salvation Army feeds their souls.
"Groceries for Good basically funds the food portion of our programs throughout the year," Horton said. "Some of the kids from low-income homes, they may not get good meals the rest of the day or the rest of the week. They'll come back for seconds or thirds of what we're having, and most of the time, we've got plenty."
The Salvation Army church serves up special dinners for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The organization again uses the gift cards to purchase turkey or ham, and side dishes and vegetables are made from non-perishable items and canned goods donated during the November day-long food drive.
The Salvation Army food pantry is another area where Groceries for Good has helped the organization with its mission to help feed people in need.
"People can get food baskets from us once a month," Horton said. "We have a database tracker, and people can go to us or Paducah Cooperative Ministry or Family Service Society or St. Vincent de Paul once a month and get a food basket, but they can't go to every place once a month."
Horton said that Groceries for Good is an integral part of the Salvation Army helping provide food to those in need in different ways.
"The Groceries for Good content -- whether they be groceries, cleaning supplies, baby supplies, personal hygiene items -- all of those things, we've used through our food pantry," he said. "Any canned goods that come in go straight to those people who meet the guidelines to get the food from the Salvation Army.
"The gift cards that we get, that actually helps us cook meals and feed kids on Wednesday nights throughout the year. We do a FEAST program, which stands for Families Eating And Sharing Together. It's an opportunity for kids and families to come in and sit down and have a cooked meal."
Horton said, this year, the Salvation Army helped to feed about 400 families, or a total of 800 to 1,200 people.
The Salvation Army church is at 2990 Trimble St., and its thrift store is at 3100 Irvin Cobb Drive. The thrift store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.