North Phoenix Food Bank Serves More Than 72,000 Meals in First Year

Mom’s Pantry, a north Phoenix food bank, will host an open house event on Saturday, May 17th to celebrate its one-year anniversary.

Opened in May 2013, Mom’s Pantry, located at 13440 N. Cave Creek Road, is a nonprofit organization that provides emergency supplemental food aid to in-need families and individuals throughout Phoenix, particularly those in the North Phoenix neighborhood.

“We are so blessed and very excited to celebrate our first successful year,” said Joe Martinez, director at Mom’s Pantry. “We have met and tackled numerous challenges and opportunities, and are so grateful for the support of our community.”

In their first year, Martinez estimates that the pantry provided more than 72,000 meals to 23,000 people – equaling more than 125,000 pounds of food distributed, far beyond the preliminary estimates for the food bank.

“We could not have fed nearly 7,000 families without the help from our generous volunteers,” said Martinez. “The food and financial contributions and volunteered time from our local community have been key to a very good first year.”

Two groups central to the pantry’s success are the local family trust that founded the pantry and the outreach program at the nearby Phoenix First Assembly of God, which Martinez says provided about 50 percent of the contribution and volunteer help for Mom’s Pantry.

To thank and recognize the community for their support, Mom’s Pantry will be opening its doors from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and key leaders at the pantry will be giving facility tours. Members of the Mom’s Pantry Board of Directors will also be on hand to meet and greet visitors.

“If this first year is any indication of our future, I’m confident Mom’s Pantry will be a long-term resource in the fight against hunger in Arizona,” says Martinez.

For more information to volunteer your time or resources, host a food drive, donate food or provide financial assistance (100 percent of donations will be used for food), please contact Joe Martinez, Mom’s Pantry Director, at (602) 686-4014.

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Food insecurity in Arizona Highlighted this Month

As the number of Arizonans going without food continues to rise, a Phoenix non-profit is joining a national initiative to address the problem.

September is Hunger Action Month, a project of nationwide food-bank network Feeding America. The event encourages people to donate to local food banks during a time of year when doing so isn’t that popular.

St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, Arizona’s largest food bank, is launching 30 Ways in 30 Days to encourage people to donate time, money and food to the state’s food banks. The group’s website features a calendar of events or suggestions on how to help every day this month.

“There’s a lot of focus on food banks during the holidays, but Hunger Action Month is designed to raise that focus to holiday levels during a different time of year,” St. Mary’s spokesman Jerry Brown said.

One in four children go to bed hungry each night, according to the Association of Arizona Food Banks. One in five people statewide do not know where their next meal will come from, Brown said. The percentage of people in Arizona with food insecurity has risen slightly — a tenth of a percent over the past year, he said.

About 19 percent of Arizona’s population lives in poverty — double the percentage of Arizonans living in poverty in 2008, at the beginning of the economic crisis, Brown said.

“We’ve slowed the rise, but we have not turned it around,” he said. “We still have as many people coming through the food bank as we did when the recession was at its height.”

More than 20 businesses including Intel and Rent-A-Center are hosting events to encourage people to “Go Orange,” the color associated with the cause. Employees of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Coyotes will help pack food boxes while the 483-foot Chase Tower in downtown Phoenix will glow orange every Thursday night this month to bring attention to the issue.

About 300 Whataburger restaurant employees will help pass out food to families in need in Peoria. The fast-food chain will give a donation to St. Mary’s that will help feed 7,000 families, said Jenny Colon, regional marketing manager.

“Being in the food-service industry, the rising food-insecurity problem is of interest,” she said. “Food insecurity doesn’t only affect homeless people, but these are families, these are children and senior citizens and people with disabilities.”

Leaders are asking people to sacrifice some purchases to benefit someone less fortunate.

“There are things as simple as forgoing a cup of coffee on the way to work that cost $5,” Brown said. “If you donate that $5 to the food bank, we can turn that into 35 meals.”

The state’s unemployment rate remains above the national average.

St. Mary’s passes out 30,000 emergency food boxes a month.

“Families in general are trying hard to make ends meet,” Colon said. “There’s just not enough money for groceries and some have to choose between groceries and utility bills.”

Food banks welcome food donations but have much better buying power with dollars.

“For every pound of food we take in, we can feed one person. For every dollar we take in, we can feed seven people. The food banks have that type of buying power,” Brown said.

Time also is a valuable gift. It allows the non-profit to put more money toward buying food instead of paying employees, Brown said.

“Ninety-five cents of every dollar goes directly back into food and food programs at St. Mary’s,” he said.

The amount of money raised each Hunger Action Month has increased, Brown said. The non-profit raised tens of thousands of dollars last year.

Because donations are not specifically designated for 30 Ways in 30 Days, Brown doesn’t have an exact amount raised solely because of the campaign. But he hopes the increase will to continue this year.

“A lot of companies, churches and people have stepped forward and are excited about Hunger Action Month, giving us kind of a boost into the holiday season when so many people remember there are people in need,” Brown said.

This food pantry article brought to you via AZ Centra

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