Gabrielle Giffords Family Assistance Center to Open in September

The long lines continue at the food bank.  Many of the people who come to us for food have related issues and need assistance. Because the food bank is a “One Stop,” they can obtain help from our family advocates in signing up for SNAP (food stamps), as well as a host of other services from organizations that reside at the food bank. Unfortunately, all of these ancillary services are upstairs, and many people are afraid to wander the halls; it’s a bit intimidating, and easy to get lost.  So they just check in, receive their food, and leave.

That’s going to change. On Friday, September 23rd, at 3:00 P.M., the food bank will open its new Gabrielle Giffords Family Assistance Center.  People who need to sign up for SNAP* get information on how to obtain legal advice, receive assistance with their tax returns and numerous other services will have help available right downstairs.

According to Marco Liu, Director of Advocacy and Outreach, “We’re always looking for ways to improve the service we provide to our visitors.  Being downstairs is going to be an enormous help to them.”

We’ve had the drawings for such a center for several years, but not the money to make it happen. People who love Congresswoman Giffords solved that problem by making tribute gifts in her honor after she was nearly killed in a shooting on January 8, 2011. Gifts have ranged from 10 cents to $25,000, and have come from 590 cities in 48 states. As of this printing, $193,440.07 has been collected from nearly 2,000 gifts. We are deeply grateful to Gabby’s husband, for publicly suggesting that those who want to honor Gabby make a gift to the Community Food Bank or the Red Cross, two of her favorite charities.

Congresswoman Giffords’ association with the Community Food bank goes back to her childhood.  And through the years, she has been there for us, initiating food drives, helping with important projects and celebrating with us at our annual Mardi Gras party.

The Gabrielle Giffords Family Assistance Center will contain two private offices and four cubicles, as well as comfortable seating for those who wait.  It will be air conditioned and carpeted, and the ceiling will be finished.  The new center is going to vastly improve the experience for those who come to us desperate for help.  And those of us who work and volunteer at the food bank are deeply grateful for this generous outpouring of support.

*Approximately $1.5 million in SNAP benefits were generated as a result of food bank outreach efforts, resulting in an economic impact equal to $2.7 million, the equivalent of 620,507 meals.