This week, staff writer Laura Rysz talks with Mary Beth Mikolayczak about the Valentine’s Day food drive for local food pantries.

Residence: Scranton

Title: Co-chairwoman and board member

Q: How does the food collection work?

A: The Scranton Municipal Recreation Authority, in conjunction with Mayor Paige Cognetti and the City of Scranton, will conduct a community food drive. People who are donating can drive right up to the Community Room during the specified times, open your trunk, and one of our volunteer staff will be there to accept your donation. We are collecting the food and then distributing it to the local pantries. The pantries will then distribute it to people in need. We will have masks on and will stay socially distanced because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Q: What nonperishable items are you asking for?

A. Items needed are boxed cereal and oatmeal; canned items such as soup, fruits, vegetables, beans and potatoes, canned chicken and tuna; rice; instant mashed potatoes; spaghetti sauce; pasta; peanut butter and jelly; pancake mix; syrup; mac and cheese; and any boxed meal helpers. Any local grocery store that is able to donate their old boxes for transport of the food, please contact Bob Gattens, 570-561-7584, or Mary Beth Mikolayczak, 570-343-0387.

Q: Where will the food be distributed to?

A: It will be donated to numerous food pantries in need throughout the city of Scranton.

Q: Where can someone send monetary donations?

A: You can drop off monetary donations during any of the collection times. If you can’t make it to the park during those times, you can always mail a donation check. Checks can be mailed to Scranton Municipal Recreation Authority, P.O. Box 3801, Scranton, PA 18505. Make a note that the check is for the food drive. All donations will be used to purchase additional food.

Q: Why is community support so important to your cause?

A: Community support is so important to myself and the board members of the Scranton Municipal Recreation Authority, especially this year, due to the hardships so many in our area have endured. People are in need of help, and we want to help with that.