Plum Food Pantry officials put surprise donation to good use

| Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Joe Utterback was wrapping up a typical Tuesday night at the Plum Food Pantry.

The night, though, turned into anything but typical when borough resident Mike Sotace walked through the door.

Sotace, 54, president of the Information Systems Security Association, a not-for-profit, international organization of information security professionals and practitioners, presented Utterback, director of the Plum Food Pantry with an $8,000 check.

“He threw me a curve,” said Utterback, 82, of Plum. “We've never had a donation that big outside of a grant.”

The Plum Food Pantry has been in operation as a local food bank since 1982 at the Holiday Park United Methodist Church on Sandune Drive.

Utterback said about 40 volunteers help distribute food to clients from 5 to 6:30 p.m. each Tuesday. Utterback said about 180 clients are serviced by the food bank.

ISSA has an annual security forum. Sotace said a portion of the proceeds from the event over the past several years went to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Sotace, a security analyst, in 2011 saw news reports that the Plum Food Pantry did not have money to purchase vouchers for clients to receive turkeys for Thanksgiving.

“No child should be without food, and no family should be without a turkey,” said Karen Sotace, 56, Mike Sotace's wife.

The Sotaces on their own also donate food to the Plum pantry.

“I know what a bag of groceries costs a family,” Karen Sotace said.

Mike Sotace said he was impressed with Utterback when Sotace dropped off about $2,500 for the turkey vouchers.

“He is a real hero,” Mike Sotace said.

Sotace, through the ISSA, decided to continue supporting the Plum Food Pantry.

To date, the ISSA has donated about $14,000 to the organization.

Utterback said the money will be used to purchase items from the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank for the local pantry.

In additional, officials are looking at build a cupboard for additional storage.

“We are very fortunate,” Utterback said.

Utterback is especially thankful to receive a donation mid-year, prior to the holidays.

“It is a blessing,” Utterback said.

“Hopefully, this money will go far and raise awareness that the food bank needs help throughout the year,” Sotace said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or

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