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Boy Scout troops and other community organizations will be out in force this weekend to collect bags of canned and packaged foods for Benton County’s annual Community Holiday Food Drive.

Many households in Corvallis and elsewhere around the county were provided with plastic bags to fill with canned vegetables, boxes of macaroni and cheese, jars of peanut butter and other shelf-stable staples for community members in need.

Volunteers will make the rounds this Saturday starting at 9 a.m. to pick up bags of food, which should be left on the front porch or other conspicuous location.

Anyone who didn’t get a bag and wants to make a donation can bring non-perishable food items to Guerber Hall at the Benton County Fairgrounds, 110 SW 53rd St. in Corvallis, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday. Donations can also be dropped off during regular business hours at Community Services Consortium, 545 SW Second St.

The food will be will be sorted and stored for later distribution. Much of the donations will go into holiday food boxes aimed at ensuring needy families can have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Each box will include a turkey, a pound of margarine and a dozen eggs (half a dozen for smaller households), and recipients will have a chance to pick additional items from what’s on hand at the distribution site. That will include fresh produce, such as potatoes, apples, pears and onions, but there may be less of the usual staples to go around this year.

“Inflation continues to increase the price of a traditional holiday meal,” said Ryan McCambridge, director of Linn Benton Food Share, which coordinates the food drive and supplies emergency food pantries in the two-county area.

“We’re getting to the point where we have had to cut back on what goes into the boxes.”

Food box recipients who don’t get everything they need for a hearty Thanksgiving dinner should be able to find at least some of those items at their community food pantry, McCambridge added, and a list of agencies that can provide assistance will be included with each food box.

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Last year the food drive distributed about 55,000 pounds of food, and organizers hope to come close to that this year.

“Hopefully, people will take more produce to make up for the canned goods,” McCambridge said.

Cash donations are always needed to cover the cost of purchasing perishable food items and can help ensure the food boxes are better stocked next year, McCambridge said. Checks should be made out to Community Holiday Food Drive and mailed in care of Linn Benton Food Share, P.O. Box 1920, Corvallis, OR 97339.

More volunteers are also needed, McCambridge said. One reason for falling food drive collections is a shortage of community organizations to distribute and collect food bags. Anyone interested in helping out next year can call 541-758-2608.

Applications for Thanksgiving food boxes must be turned in to the Linn Benton Food Share office at Community Services Consortium by 5 p.m. on Nov. 19.

Distribution will take place on the Monday before Thanksgiving, Nov. 25.

Most recipients will collect their boxes at Guerber Hall at the Benton County Fairgrounds, 110 SW 53rd St. in Corvallis. People whose last names start with the letters A through J can pick up food boxes between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., while those whose surnames start with the letters I through Z should come between 2 and 5 p.m. Late arrivals can pick up a food box 5 and 7 p.m. or stop by 10 a.m. and noon the following day.

People who live in the Alsea and Monroe areas will be able to pick up their boxes on Nov. 25 at their local food pantries. The Alsea location will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., while the one in Monroe will be open between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

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Reporter Bennett Hall can be contacted at bennett.hall@lee.net or 541-812-6111. Follow him on Twitter at @bennetthallgt.

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Special Projects Editor

Special Projects Editor, Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald