FOOD CHECK-OUT DAY Event to celebrate agricultural successes

Americans must work until May 3 to earn enough to pay their taxes, according to a Farm Bureau official.
CANFIELD -- American workers have filled the horn of plenty. By Friday, they will have earned enough to feed their families for the year.
To celebrate, the Mahoning County Farm Bureau and Nemenz IGA of Struthers will have Food Check-Out Day, an annual event marking the occasion. During the festivities, Farm Bureau volunteers will pack groceries and provide information to shoppers.
Nemenz will highlight Ohio products available in the store, and representatives from Second Harvest Food Bank and the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley will shop for staples using $400 in vouchers donated by the Farm Bureau and Nemenz.
Explanation: Food is more affordable, as a percentage of income, in the United States than almost anywhere in the world, said Kim Moff, chairwoman of the Farm Bureau's promotion and education committee.
It's also getting cheaper. In 1930, Americans spent 24.7 percent of their earnings on food, 17.4 percent in 1960 and 10.6 percent today.
Equating that to work days, breadwinners worked 91 days in 1930, 64 days in 1960 and 39 days this year to buy groceries for the year.
They will have to work until May 3 to pay their taxes, Moff said. The decrease in food costs is attributed to technological advances in agriculture, food processing and distribution.
Help for charities: Although food in America is affordable, there are still some families who can't feed themselves on their limited incomes. To help the needy, one or two charitable organizations receive donations during Check-Out Day festivities.
This year, Moff said, Mike Iberis, director of Second Harvest Food Bank, and Rev. David Sherrard, executive director, Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley, "can buy exactly what they need and they can do it as they need it." They don't have to spend their vouchers all at once.
"One of the things that's always lacking in the diets of a lot of folks we help is protein," Iberis said.
"We'll probably spend our money on peanut butter and tuna -- protein-rich foods. We'll also be looking at spaghetti and spaghetti sauce."
Second Harvest Food Bank distributed 4.1 million pounds of food in 2001 through 193 agencies in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.
This year, Iberis said, donations are especially needed because food collections during the holidays were less than what was expected. "It's the first year we saw a decrease, maybe because of 9/11," he said.

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