On a recent Thursday, Consuelo, a first-time client of the Community Food Bank in Tucson took advantage of extended hours to pick up an emergency meal. She says in Spanish, “I work in the morning and early afternoon. I’m glad that food was handed out later today. I might have had to wait until the fourth Saturday of the month, otherwise.” That would have been more than two weeks later. Consuelo had known about the food bank, but had never been able to use our services. That changed in July when, with the commitment of our donors and volunteers, we were able to extend emergency food distribution on Thursdays by pushing our regular closing time from 1 PM to 6 PM. That five-hour difference allows us to accommodate more of our clients’ schedules and makes it easier for individuals like Consuelo to access the vital resources they need.
Growing Numbers of First-Time Clients
“Since the first month that we extended hours, we’ve seen an increase in first-time clients,” says Rachel Briggs, Associate Director of the Gabrielle Giffords Resource Center (GGRC) and Marana Resource Centers. In fact, the increase has been surprisingly sharp. On the last Thursday of September, GGRC distributed a record-breaking number of emergency meals to 854 households (or approximately 2,927 individuals), surpassing the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week as our busiest of the year. The food bank typically sees more traffic at the end of the month, when our clients’ benefits and resources start to run low. As Maria Olivia was pushing her shopping cart out to her car, she explained, “Everything is so expensive now, so this is really helpful. The money I save I am able to put towards other bills. It’s especially helpful on a fixed income.” She recently retired early at age 62 due to injury.
What’s in the Shopping Cart?
Every food bank client gets an emergency food box with a pre-selected variety of produce and/or shelf stable foods, courtesy of The Emergency Food Assistance Program. On this particular day a separate box containing a beautiful medley of fresh fruit and vegetables was offered. In addition, clients get to choose from donated items like bulk produce, frozen goods, and often a protein like eggs, milk or cheese. Maria Olivia opted for a frozen chicken, a Pepperidge Farm loaf of brioche bread, asparagus cuts and spears, a bag of peaches, among other things. The nourishment and extended hours made possible by our volunteers, supporters and staff really are helping the Community Food Bank offer more healthy food to more people.
You can help end hunger. Make a contribution today!