A Holiday for Everyone

The Community Food Bank distributed over 29 million pounds of food last year; that’s a 30% increase over the previous year in requests for help.

“Summer can be a difficult time, as many of our donors are away for the season,” said Bill Carnegie, President/CEO. “Our demand is higher because children are out of school at this time of year and more people are unemployed.” Generous donors helped us fill the need during the long, demanding summer rush and we are grateful.

The only season more challenging is the holiday season. While it is shorter than the summer, the need in the community is more intense. “It’s like Black Friday at the mall down here,” said Eric Hitzeman, vice president of operations for the food bank. The lines of people and cars come close to unmanageable at our main warehouse in Tucson and at our branches and pantry sites.

This year we expect yet another increase in the number of people seeking assistance. It is imperative that we give people the same basic essentials that they count on us for at other times of the year, despite the increase in volume. However, we also make it a priority to give out holiday food items. We generally receive numerous donations of roasts and frozen turkeys. These perishable items are a perfect fit for our Agency Market program, which provides food to hundreds of local charities, many of which cook meals on-site for their clients. Charities shop at the Agency Market for free for the items they need. It’s then up to them to distribute the food to their clients—children, families, seniors, the unemployed, the homeless, people suffering from illness or addiction, people fleeing abuse, veterans, and more.

We also are including holiday items with our emergency food assistance. Branch food banks will each be handling their area individually, depending on the donations they receive. For example, the Green Valley-Sahuarita branch is able to provide its clients with frozen turkeys, thanks to generous area donors. Unfortunately, Tucson’s distribution methods don’t allow for turkeys to be included with the boxes, as most of our pantries don’t have the ability to safely store them. This year, in both November and December, clients can look forward to a ham in their food boxes, as well as a variety of other extras like potato flakes and stuffing mix, to help everyone provide a holiday meal.

Every year we count on our generous donors to make all of this possible. If you are interested in helping the Community Food Bank this holiday season, be aware that your donation may qualify for the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit.