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Year's food bill should be paid by Wednesday

February 07, 2000

Food Check-out DayBy DON AINES/ Staff Writer, Chambersburg

photo: DON AINES




CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -The low cost and availability of food for U.S. consumers means the average family works 40 days to earn the money needed to feed itself an entire year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

By contrast, Americans spend the first 129 days of the year working to pay federal, state and local taxes, said Marlin Miller of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

The 10.9 percent of income Americans spend on food is the lowest in the world, Miller said. Mexican families spend almost three times as much of their income on food, and in India, families spend more than half their income to feed themselves.

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The Franklin County Farm Bureau and farm bureaus across Pennsylvania and the nation are marking Wednesday as Food Check-out Day by collecting food and supplies for the Ronald McDonald Houses.

Items collected in this county go to the house in Hershey, Pa., one of five in the state, said Frances Reichard, the Food Check-out Day coordinator for the Franklin County Farm Bureau. Food Check-out Day marks the day the average American has worked enough to pay for the year's food.

"We had a pickup truck filled up to the top, plus (Reichard's) van" last year, retired Waynesboro, Pa., farmer Daniel Bingaman said. Reichard said the total donated from the counties serving the Hershey Ronald McDonald House totaled about $8,000.

Reichard's van was filled last week with cereals, snacks, Styrofoam cups, papers plates, napkins and other goods destined for the Ronald McDonald House, where families stay while children are treated for serious or long-term illnesses. Reichard, of Chambersburg, said the goods were donated by the Franklin County Farm Women and the New Franklin Ruritan Club.

"Last year when we were there, there were 13 families staying there," said Bingaman.

"This is the second year we're doing it in Pennsylvania," Miller said. In 1999 farmers and others donated more than $40,000 for Food Check-out Day, he said.

The Franklin County Farm Bureau wants donations of nonperishable foods, snacks, cleaners and paper products, Reichard said. "It can even be crayons, coloring books and other things for children," she said.

Reichard said donations will be accepted at four sites until Tuesday afternoon. Items can be dropped off at the following locations:

* Mont Alto Volunteer Fire Co., 6034 Anthony Highway, Mont Alto, Pa.

* Hillside Poultry Farm, 1849 Letterkenny Road, Chambersburg.

* Arthur's Country Deli, 3385 Wayne Road, Chambersburg.

* Mercersburg, Montgomery, Peters and Warren Township Volunteer Fire Co., 132 N. Main St., Mercersburg, Pa.

The local farm community has donated food despite depressed prices for dairy products, a mainstay in Franklin County. "A lot of people don't realize the work it takes to produce food," Reichard said.

"It's a seven-day-a-week job, yet it's a good life," Bingaman said.

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