Community Food Bank Applies for USDA Rural Development ARRA Funding for Semi-Trailer

The USDA funding of approximately $200,000 will be utilized to purchase a rural distribution semi-trailer, this trailer will be used as part of the produce distribution program, distributing produce to the food bank’s rural feeding sites and moving produce to other areas outside of distribution area as needed.

The Community Food Bank’s current fleet is in use every day. Consisting of 17 refrigerated trucks it’s a struggle to keep up with demand for store pick up, agency, and branch bank deliveries. In fact, if a truck needs repairs the Community Food Bank does not have a truck to replace it and has to double-up pick ups and deliveries or ask agency partners to help.

The current rural distribution program includes 22 rural sites in Santa Cruz, Cochise, Graham and Greenlee counties. The trucks used for these programs are in service full-time and unable to be utilized for any additional programs.

The requested truck for Amado, Arizona would allow the Community Food Bank to deliver additional fresh produce to underserved rural sites in southern Arizona and throughout the state. These areas often have limited access to retail grocery outlets and fresh produce. Produce is distributed to the Community Food Bank service area, including the rural sites mentioned above, and shared with sister food banks statewide when available.

Says CEO, Bill Carnegie ” This tractor-trailer will dramatically improve the Community Food Bank’s ability to move more fresh produce to more people in need in rural Southern Arizona communities. ”

The Community Food Bank obtains the bulk of it’s fresh produce from donors in Nogales, Arizona, one of the U.S.’s largest ports of entry. During the last fiscal year the food bank procured nearly 7 million pounds of produce from these donors; so far this fiscal year 4,800,000 pounds have been procured and distributed throughout the state, improving the diets of thousands of low-income Arizonans. According to the 2009 Arizona Statewide Gleaning Project report, 24% of the total product gleaned for the state is from Santa Cruz County.

In less than two years the Community Food Bank has tripled the number of produce distributors that donate product to the food bank; however, there are still many more potential donors. When the food bank receives a call to accept a donation, the turnaround is short. The donor will need the product picked up the same day or the donation may be lost. Currently the food bank uses a truck donated by St. Mary’s Food Bank to accept large donations but that truck is old and needs to be replaced. The addition of this semi-trailer will mean the Community Food Bank can increase the amount of produce procured by enabling us to better respond to donor requests, procure more produce and distribute it to rural areas throughout southern Arizona and statewide.