Strain Photography is looking for Faulkner County food pantry programs in need, after the portrait studio raised more than 29,000 items of donated food in a photography prize package contest.
Tammy Powers, mental health intern for Bethlehem House, arrived Monday afternoon to see what of the 29,000 food items she could take back to the shelter.
“Protein,” she said. “We’re always searching for protein.”
Powers said the shelter receives plenty of corn and green beans, but they tend to constantly be in need of meat, cereal, soup and peanut butter and jelly.
Powers drove away with nearly 700 cans of Armour Chili for Bethlehem House food boxes.
“These will be great for hotels, people staying in their cars and families,” she said.
Last year, Strain Photography collected a variety of 14,000 nonperishable food items.
This year participants were determined to beat last year’s numbers donating more than double the amount of food.
Photographer Brandy Strain-Dayer said since Bethlehem House moved to its new location just a few doors down from the studio, it has been truly inspiring to host the contest this year.
She often sees Faulkner County’s homeless making their way down Parkway Avenue to the shelter.
“It was great to see how everyone rallied together,” Strain-Dayer said. “It wasn’t really about winning, but donating to places that needed help.”
Strain-Dayer said contestants were creative in the ways they encouraged family and friends to donate getting churches and schools involved and touting tax deductions.
“No one was bitter that they lost,” she said. “They just wanted to do something good for their community.”
Although the studio did receive a lot of corn and green beans, Strain-Dayer said, contestants would also ask what wasn’t being donated, and try to fill that need.
With two boxes of macaroni and cheese counting for one vote, paired with a Price Cutter sale of four boxes for $1, macaroni and cheese was by far the most donated item this year.
Photographer Jackie Strain-Mahar said some people even drove as far as Searcy and Cabot searching for the best deal where some stores were selling it five for $1.
The studio collected about 11,000 boxes of macaroni and cheese by the end of the contest with a truckload of 4,000 boxes being dropped off for the winner, toddler Jett Grissom, son of Matt and Bethany Grissom.
To win the prize package, including free regular studio session fees for life, family and friends of the Grissoms donated a little more than 9,000 food items.
The photography studio has already filled truck and van loads full of food for a number of food pantries, local pack back programs and churches, but still have thousands to give away.
The Strains are encouraging anyone who knows a program in need, to call the studio at 501-329-6455.
They are hoping to clear the studio by Wednesday, Strain-Dayer said.