Nourishing News Spring 2010

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UA Symphony Feeding America Concert

National Association of Letter Carriers 18th Annual “Stamp Out Hunger” Food Drive

For the 18th consecutive year the National Association of Letter Carriers and the Community Food Bank will team up to collect donations on Saturday, May 8, 2010 for the “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive

The Community Food Bank will join the letter carriers’ efforts to provide food to depleted supplies. “The NALC” Food Drive is especially important to us this year,” said Bill Carnegie, Community Food Bank President/CEO.  “More families are seeking assistance than ever before and we really need our community to support the Letter Carriers efforts.  It is important to note that all food collected will go to help local families in need.”

To help “Stamp Out Hunger” in Southern Arizona, residents may leave a bag of non-perishable food, such as canned meats, canned vegetables, canned soups, cereal, peanut butter, canned fruit or canned tomato products next to their mail box before the time of their mail delivery on Saturday, May 8th.   Food should be in non-breakable containers.  Letter carriers will collect the food donations and deliver them to the Community Food Bank.

Last year the National Association of Letter Carriers “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive collected almost 300,000 pounds of food for hungry families in Southern Arizona.  Nationally, the NALC hopes to reach the 1 billion pound mark for food donations since the inception of the food drive.

For further information, contact the NALC Branch #704 at (520) 323-2117 or Jack Parris at (520) 622-0525 x 215.

How you can help

  • Donate non-perishable food! Needed items are canned meats, canned vegetables, canned soups, cereal, peanut butter, canned fruit or canned tomato products. Please do not donate items in breakable containers such as glass, as these can be hazardous to our postal carriers, volunteers and staff.
  • This year the letter carriers urgently need help sorting the food and loading it into the tractor-trailers that will transport it to the Community Food Bank. Volunteer assignments are available at several local post offices. To volunteer, call Volunteer Manager Kristen Hershberger by Friday, April 30, at 622-0525 Ext. 204.

Donors Help Food Bank Do More

The Agency Market is the part of the Community Food Bank utilized most by local charities that need help providing meals for their clients. Charities can find food, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items (popular with our group homes and shelters) and much more. They just visit the Tucson warehouse and choose what they need from the available items. Thanks to our generous donors, we are able to help these charities even more.

All of the items in the Agency Market are donated to the food bank in bulk. This product is shipped either locally in food bank trucks, or from across the country. Transportation of donated goods is one of the food bank’s largest expenses. Until recently, charities using the Agency Market helped us offset the cost of shipping with a 10¢ per pound fee. With the economy taking its toll on charities, the food bank has dropped the 10¢ per pound fee and now offers the items in the Agency Market with no fees.

Nogales Branch Finds a New Home

The recent purchase of a building to house the Nogales Community Food Bank is a big step forward for the fight against hunger in Southern Arizona. The Nogales area is dense with a diverse population and, like Tucson, many of its people are at serious risk for hunger. While there are charitable services in the Nogales area, many of its people were not finding all of the help they needed until the Community Food Bank decided to strengthen its presence in the community. The Nogales branch, established a few years ago, was welcomed by those in need. Today the impact of the Nogales branch is irrefutable. Last year it distributed more than 20,000 food boxes to 11,855 people in need of emergency food assistance. This is in addition to its other food assistance programs.

Another great benefit of having a branch in Nogales is the relationships it allows us to build with area food donors. About 40% of the fruits and vegetables that enter the U.S. from Mexico are shipped through the Nogales port of entry. Many of our donors in the Nogales area are part of the produce industry. They donate through the food bank, often in such high quantity that the produce is shared locally with other charities, then shipped throughout Southern Arizona and the rest of the state to nonprofits that can use it before it spoils.

The purchase of a new warehouse for the Nogales branch allows us to make an even greater contribution to the community. “Now being able to have a place we can call our own, we can only move forward,” said Exectuive Director Arthur Espinoza. “We will definitely be more accessible to our clients.” The current warehouse lacks wheelchair ramps, as well as a heating and cooling system. This, coupled with the current buyers’ market, led the food bank to choose not to renew the rental contract in its current location and buy a larger, more suitable building. The move is planned for this summer, after some renovations.

Hunger Study Stresses Emergency Need

One in eight Americans is at risk for hunger according to Feeding America, our national food bank network. Unfortunately, this statistic is reflected locally through people seeking food assistance at an alarming rate. Hunger in America 2010, a study released in February, estimated that 148,000 people seek emergency food assistance in Southern Arizona every year.

It’s important to note that the study is only referring to emergency food assistance from pantries, shelters and soup kitchens. People participating in non-emergency food programs, for example foster care providers, school programs, senior centers, families receiving food stamps (SNAP), Food Plus or WIC, were not included in the study.

One of the statistics that surprises us repeatedly at the food bank is the number of people that are employed but cannot meet their household food needs. An astounding 57% of people interviewed at soup kitchens reported that at least one member of their household was employed. This means that working families are using emergency food programs at a shockingly high rate. These working poor families simply do not earn enough to cover the cost of food and other essentials for their families. Many cannot qualify for food stamps or other assistance, either because their incomes are too high, or they do not meet program age guidelines. These people are forced to rely on emergency food as the only source of assistance available to them.

The sheer volume of people requesting emergency food is of great concern. The fact that they are in need of emergency assistance means that they are new to the system, cannot qualify for non-emergency food programs, or have not applied. Besides age and income restrictions that make it impossible for some to apply for non-emergency programs, there is another prevalent issue. Many cannot apply because they lack a home address, which is required. In fact, 15% of local people utilizing emergency food are homeless.

Not enough to live on, but too much to be eligible for help. The economics of hunger are tricky; it’s difficult to figure out how much help a family will need, especially when you consider that everyone’s situation is different. The national poverty level for a family of four is $22,050 per year.* However, as you can see in the Basic Needs Budget chart on page five, a family of four needs much more than $22,050 to live on. The federal government recognizes this as well. For example, a family of four must earn $28,668 or less per year to qualify for food stamps—a federal program. Even though these families are not living in poverty according to the federal government—they earn $6,618 more than a family living at the poverty level—the government recognizes that they cannot cover their basic needs. Even a family of four earning twice that of the federal poverty level might have a hard time covering all of its expenses without some kind of assistance.

Another reason for the unusually high number of people asking for emergency assistance is the unemployment rate—reported at 9.7% nationally for January 2010. These people are new to the system. Meaning that this is the first time they have experienced unemployment and have no idea how or where to ask for assistance. Many will use emergency food assistance to fill the gap, but will never apply for non-emergency food assistance programs.

More than one-quarter of those surveyed report that they have a least one household member in poor health. Additionally, 42% report that they have had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care. This is a strong indicator that poor health and lack of access to affordable health care can be major contributors to hunger.

All of these factors create a greater burden for charities that provide food assistance. Across the nation and locally as well, many have had to close their doors, unable to keep up with the increasing demand. It has left many of the surviving organizations relying on assistance from the food bank more than ever before.

According to the local shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries surveyed, the Community Food Bank is their single most important source of food. Local pantries surveyed show the food bank is providing an astounding 76% of the food they give to their clients. Shelters and soup kitchens use the food bank less, relying on us for 36% and 43% respectively. Other sources of food for these organizations include government, religious organizations, and purchased food.

Fortunately the supporters of the Community Food Bank have remained extremely generous, allowing us to increase services. We have been able to meet the needs of not only our individual clients, but also of the pantries, shelters and soup kitchens that count on us to provide food for their clients. Despite the bleak statistics, your gifts help us provide enough food for 48,000 meals every day. These gifts help us ensure that people in our community don’t go to bed hungry.

* $22,050 is the poverty level for 2009, the 2010 level has not come into effect yet.

Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market Hosts “Earth Day Sonoran Supermarket”

Where: NE corner of Speedway and Riverview, west of I-10 between Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind and El Rio Neighborhood Center

Admission: Free and open to the public

The Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market “Earth Day Sonoran Supermarket” is designed to educate community members about healthy foods that grow in the Sonora Desert.  The “Earth Day Sonoran Supermarket” will feature a kid-friendly presentation of foods native to the desert, offered by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

Local produce selections at the Farmers’ Market include salad and cooking greens, turnips, beets, leeks, fennel, potatoes, onions, citrus and much more.  Shoppers can also find Sonoran honey, dried beans and grains, free-range beef, fresh eggs, herbal remedies, locally roasted coffee, garden plants and cacti.

The Farmers’ Market accepts credit and debit cards, food stamps, cash, and Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Cash Value Vouchers for fruits and vegetables.

For more information, contact Sara Rickard at (520) 622-0525 x 242.

The Officers and Enlisted Spouses Clubs at Davis Monthan Air Force Base host a canned food drive

The Officers and Enlisted Spouses Clubs at Davis Monthan Air Force Base teamed up with the Community Food Bank to host a canned food drive during “Aerospace and Arizona Days air show on March 20 & 21, 2010.  Pictured are CFB staff members taking canned food collections on base during the event.

During the two day event over 8,700 pounds of food and almost $11,000 was collected and will go a long way to help feed hungry families in Southern Arizona.

Public Information Meeting

The Marana Heritage Farm has applied to the USDA Rural Development for funding assistance for the development of a Composting Project.  A public meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 14, 2010  at 5:00 PM to discuss the specific elements of the application and to give the residents in the local area an opportunity to become acquainted with the proposed project.  The residents may provide comments on such items as economic and environmental issues that may impact the area or discuss any alternatives to the proposed project.  The meeting will be held at the Marana Heritage Farm located at 12375 N. Park Drive, Marana, Arizona.  Additional information about this meeting can be obtained by contacting Cie’na Schaefli at (520) 449-3154.