Pantry Saw A Big Boost For The Holiday Season

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Truman Lake Dental wanted to give back to the community at Christmas this year, and decided to do a Reverse Advent Calendar to help them fill food boxes for the Benton County Food Pantry. According to, a Reverse Advent Calendar  is a new way to use the calendar to mark off each day by putting an item of food or clothing into a box for charitable giving at Christmas. Ordinarily, advent calendars are a way to count down the days until Christmas Day, bringing on more excitement as the big day gets closer. 
Tara and Joy, members of the staff at Truman Lake Dental, have been organizing this giving project for about two months. Tara is also a board member of the Benton County Food Pantry and asked Pantry Manager, Jeannie Arnold, if it was a project that would benefit those families who might not otherwise have a Christmas dinner.
Each employee of Truman Lake Dental filled one or two boxes for the project. The suggested foods that have been placed in the boxes are cereal, peanut butter, stuffing mix, boxed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, canned fruit, canned tomatoes, canned tuna, dessert mix, jar of applesauce, canned sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, canned beans, box of crackers, package of rice, oatmeal, pasta, spaghetti sauce, chicken noodle soup, tomato soup, can of corn, can of mixed vegetables, can of carrots, can of green beans, plus any other non-perishable that the providing employee desired to donate. And, of course, each box will have a turkey.
Twenty Christmas Food boxes were delivered to the Pantry on Wednesday, December 4, by Truman Lake Dental employees. They contained a total of 508 pounds of food plus 21 turkeys.
“The boxes will be handed out beginning December 9th,” said Tara. “We are focusing mainly on families with children who might not be able to purchase food for a Christmas dinner.”
Tara said that this is the first year for the event, and that Truman Lake Dental plans to be involved in more community service in the future.
Pantry Manager Arnold said that she is happy about this and other giving for the holiday season. She said that there have also been two food drives by North and South Elementary Schools, and that people have calling her offering to donate to the Pantry.
South School held its food drive from November 19 through 22, collecting 1,003 pounds of food. 
“Classes competed to see who could collect the most food items, and Ms. Henderson’s PreK class won with 175 items,” said South School Secretary Kathy Kuykendall.  “We have been doing this on a yearly basis.”
North Elementary School held its Make a Difference Week Food Drive for the Pantry October 22-25, collecting a total of 861 pounds of dry food. It was collected on a competitive basis, with the third grade level bringing in the most pounds of food.
“There was an assembly on Friday after the Food Drive when the grade level winner as well as the individual class with the most pounds of food collected was announced,” said Mrs. Flores, Counselor at North. “The winners were treated to a popcorn party.”
Flores said that her school has participated every year in Share Food  Bring Hope through the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri. The collected food always goes to the local community, in this case the Benton County Food Pantry.