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This is what the “Best Wishes” program display looks like at the Holiday Market in Chester. Taking a moment after loading up hundreds of bags of food to be donated to local food pantries, are from left, standing: Tracey Smith and Vanessa Leal from Plumas Bank; Chris Sellers with Helping Hands; and Jobana Townsend, Louise Osborn and Pam Mashburn with Almanor Basin Food Pantry. Kneeling from left are Emily Rice and Joy Newell with Holiday Market. Photo by Gregg Scott

‘Best Wishes’ comes from Holiday Market

Seven years ago, the Chester Holiday Market introduced the community to a new holiday tradition called, the “Best Wishes” program.

The reasoning behind the program is to help “food insecure” families in the area with nutritional needs. Food insecurity is simply defined as any person or persons that don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

It is estimated that approximately 50 million Americans live with food insecurity, children accounting for about 16 million of those.

In past years, you have probably noticed the many “Best Wishes” brown paper bags filled with food, on display in the store.

This usually occurs the entire month of November, however due to circumstances this year, donations will be accepted through Saturday, Dec. 14.

The pre-assembled bags are loaded with five hearty food items, and a $5 donation will be sent to one of three local food pantries.

The items in the bags are the most requested by the food pantries and are supplied through the Holiday Market “Best Yet” food brand.

Staple items including spaghetti, long grain rice, home-style instant mashed potatoes, cut green beans and creamy peanut butter are then ready to augment the regular distribution of food from the Almanor Basin Food Pantry, Helping Hands Food Pantry, and the Chester Wellness and Family Resource Center.

It should be noted that the “Best Wishes” program is a corporate-wide endeavor that has become somewhat of a competition between locations.

The local market was able to donate just over 450 bags in 2013 and with the help of sponsor Chester Plumas Bank, they have soared to over 2,000.

Everyone involved, especially the food pantries, stressed their heartfelt appreciation for the support of the community and look forward to even greater help with the extended time.

If interested in making a direct donation, whether monetarily or in time, contact these food pantries:

– Helping Hands Food Pantry,

(408) 422-7080, P O Box 1607, Chester CA 96020.

– Almanor Basin Food Pantry,

284-1304, P O Box 1445, Chester CA 96020.

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