September 19, 2002 11:00 pm

ELGIN — The benefits of a can of food — heightened awareness, helping the community, and education — will be on display Tuesday night in Elgin.

A newly formed community volunteer board has stepped forward in recent months to ensure the survival of the Elgin Food Bank, threatened this summer by the death of Clyde Meeham.

Meeham had been active with the food bank since it was reorganized in January 2000, using volunteers who had worked with the prior ministerial leadership group. The group of volunteers worked with Meeham to keep the shelves filled, handle the paperwork, and see to it that the busiest food bank in Union County — according to Community Connection records — stayed operating.

With Meeham's death, eight community and business leaders have stepped forward to keep the Food Bank operating, said Polly Parsons, chairwoman of the new leadership committee.

Committee members have taken on various duties, she said, ranging from public awareness to volunteer recruitment.

Tuesday's benefit has "turned into a really good event," Parsons said.

Area musicians are volunteering their talents to provide what Parsons calls "a nice, fun family event," with door prizes for those attending, free coffee, and snacks available at the Opera House's snack counter.

With a performance list still being finalized, Parsons said that those playing and singing will include Charlotte Quebbeman, Tiffany Rasmussen, Dottie and Co., Josh Peters and others.

The only fee for the event will be a can of food per person (no home-canned goods, please), although there will be donation buckets set out for those who would like to give more.

The organizing group hopes to accomplish three things Tuesday, Parson said.

First is raising awareness of the Elgin Food Bank and its existence and services.

Next is the straightforward need to fill the shelves at the food bank. "A food drive," she said.

And finally, "this is an educational piece," Parsons said.

The Elgin Food Bank, a United Way agency, operates out of the old Recorder office, located behind Derv's Drugs.

Food is distributed from the food bank the third Saturday of each month, between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m., with free bread available between 3:30 and 5 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays of each month.

In recent years, the food bank hasn't found it uncommon to serve 100 or more families each month. Food bank clients generally live in a 14-mile radius of Elgin, and include people from Imbler, Summerville and Palmer Junction.

Parsons added that anyone interested in learning more about the food bank, or willing to become a volunteer, can call her at 437-8761.

Tuesday's fundraiser is being sponsored by The Elgin Opera House and Bare Naked Beans. 790 Division St., Elgin.