October means full shelves going into the holidays for Tri-City-area food banks.
That's because for more than a decade, several Tri-City auto and RV dealerships have teamed with Yoke's Fresh Market stores for an Octoberfest food drive.
"This is the perfect time for us," said John Neill, executive director of Tri-Cities Food Bank. He oversees the three locations, one each in Kennewick, Richland and Benton City.
"Summer is skinny for donations. There are hardly any food drives then," he said. "We're certainly down now and, with the holidays approaching, knowing this big donation is coming is a big relief."
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Neill said the three Tri-Cities Food Banks go through 16 to 18 tons of food a week and serve 200 families a day.
"We go through donations pretty quickly," he said.
The nonperishable food donations also will help restock the food supplies for the Salvation Army, Tri-City Union Gospel Mission, St. Vincent De Paul and the Golden Age Food Source.
Donations can be dropped off at Russ Dean Family RV and McCurley Integrity Auto Dealerships and Thrifty Car Sales, all in Pasco, and Toyota of Tri-Cities in Kennewick.
The dealerships also will set aside a portion of the money they receive from vehicle sales during October.
They raised $18,850 last year and have set a goal to exceed that amount this year. The money will be used to buy food from Yoke's at a discount.
Three Yoke's stores also are participating in the Octoberfest food drive. Pre-packed bags of nonperishable foods are available at the Pasco, Kennewick and West Richland stores.
Customers can buy them for $10 each and drop the bags in donation bins as they leave the store.
In the 11 years the dealerships, Yoke's and the public have been participating in the annual Octoberfest Food Bank Food Drive, it's estimated nearly 320,000 pounds of food have been collected.
"Speaking for all the food banks, the timing for this food drive could not be better," Neill said.
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org