Preparing for the Holidays
The coming holiday season promises to be a difficult one for many southern Arizonans. While the economy is showing signs of recovery, unemployment is still high. It will probably be years before many families are back on their feet financially. However, our immediate concern is the next few months. The strain the holiday season puts on working families, grandparents and even individuals can be too much. The expense added from school breaks, unpaid holiday time, or simply the expense of trying to provide good holidays for the family is overwhelming for many of our clients.
We are gearing up to make sure everyone gets the food they need this holiday season, plus some extra items to help them put together a holiday meal. While the help the Community Food Bank supplies will by no means make for a luxurious holiday, our standard three-day food box does have extra holiday items during November and December. For most of our clients this means the difference between a special holiday meal and nothing at all.
Individuals & Families
The food bank has ordered five-pound hams and small turkey roasters; every supplemental food box (our three-day box) will include one or the other in November and as well as in December. A person or family is not required to qualify for this box; they simply need to provide identification that shows they are a local resident and state that they need the help. All of the hams and turkeys have been secured, but we hope to add additional holiday food items to the boxes as more funds become available.
We anticipate handing out about 15,000 of these boxes per month in Tucson and Pima County this holiday season. An additional 4,700 boxes per month will be provided in our outlying counties (Cochise, Graham, Greenlee and Santa Cruz). Clients who receive other types of food boxes or other assistance also can get one of these special holiday food boxes.
About 300 local charitable agencies count on the Community Food Bank to supply food for their clients. These organizations serve a wide variety of people like children in foster care, victims of domestic violence, seniors, veterans and the homeless.
Charitable agencies simply visit the Community Food Bank and choose the items they need from what we have available at our Agency Market. Food from food drives and drop-off points (see page eight for a list) goes to Agency Market for these charities. Additionally, they receive many of our corporate food donations and donations from our local grocery stores and food distributors.
We never know what types of items we are going to receive from our corporate food donors—this is why our individual food donors are so important during the holidays. Generally we can count on the people who donate food to give us holiday items during the season. Almost 850,000 pounds of holiday food and other essentials were distributed through the Agency Market in November and December combined last year.
Local Soup Kitchens
We have 20 soup kitchens that rely on us to provide food for their clients. Through our special program for them we provide about 67,000 meals per month to their clients. Turkeys will be available to these agencies for the holidays, as well as any other items they need through our Agency Market.