National Volunteer Month


In honor of National Volunteer Month, we’ve been shining a spotlight on the tremendous contributions that volunteers make to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. At the food bank’s headquarters in Tucson alone, it takes a daily average of 110 volunteers to sustain our programs and services. That number is much greater when you take into account the volunteers who support our services in Nogales, Green Valley, Amado, Caridad Community Kitchen, Willcox Distribution Center, Las Milpitas Farm and our rural distribution sites. From sorting food to distributing meals, their dedication fuels our mission to fight hunger and nourish our community.

Gabriela building boxes on the production line.

Volunteers Built Over 400,000 Food Boxes In 2023

Volunteers come to our warehouse every morning to help build emergency food boxes. Fueled by high energy music, the assembly operation is a fast-paced, group effort to assemble and pack The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) boxes with a well-rounded mix of staple foods. Here’s what Gabriela had to say about working on the production line: “It’s a busy morning, but it’s really fun. Really good teamwork.” Volunteers in production help the Community Food Bank keep pace with demand. Last year, the food bank distributed over 400,000 boxes of emergency food each. That would not be possible without the many people who donate their time and labor to building these boxes. But this is just one of many essential roles that volunteers play at the food bank.


National Volunteer Month photo of Alaa
Alaa assists visitors at check-in.

Giving Back Is Good For You

On food distribution days, Alaa helps to check in visitors as they make their way to the front of the line. He recalls, “I used to stand in that same line with my parents as a child. Now that I’m grown up, I want to give back.” Part of the beauty of volunteering is that it comes with its own rewards. Gary, who is a retired park ranger, shared that he was inspired by the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger to find new purpose and gain a sense of satisfaction from doing community service. That was seven months ago. He’s been volunteering at the food bank ever since.



Grace and Gary bagging citrus.

Volunteering At the Food Bank Is Fun & Convenient

Volunteers bag enormous quantities of fresh items like citrus fruit, green beans or potatoes into family-sized portions for distribution. It’s quite a bit of food to process, but volunteers like Grace help us chip away at this massive task, well, gracefully.  She says, “It is nice to know that I’m doing something good. And you can pick a shift that works for you and fits around your schedule.” As an employee of Encourage AZ, it’s Gloria’s job to volunteer, but she can do that anywhere. She chooses the food bank because, “The environment is fun and friendly, there’s always plenty to do, and shifts are only three hours.”


National Volunteer Month photo of Laurie
Laurie in the Nuestra Tierra Community Garden.

A Wide Variety of Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers can be matched with more than just a convenient time slot. Someone who is good with computers, might enjoy being part of the volunteer data entry team. Long-time volunteer Lloyd shares,”I’ve been here about ten years. I’m a former computer programmer. This is good place to talk to people and keeps me from going crazy at home.” While someone interested in learning to grow their own food might volunteer at Nuestra Tierra Community Garden. Laurie started donating her time in the garden about four years. She says, “I’ve learned so much about gardening, native seeds and the rhythms of a garden.”


National Volunteer Month photo of Calvin
Calvin preps meals at Caridad Community Kitchen.

Caridad Community Kitchen Portions More Than
1,000 Senior Meals A Day

Caridad’s impact in the community of seniors and unhoused neighbors would not be possible without the help of it’s volunteers. Calvin states, “I volunteer at Caridad because it’s a good thing to do. People have to be fed.” Alicia who volunteers once a week distributing grab-n-go bags and hygiene kits says, “It’s hard work but very rewarding. Plus, it’s well-organized and you feel supported by the staff.”

Demand for emergency continues to rise at the Community Food Bank. Last week, the resource center in Tucson broke its own records for the most food distributed on a Thursday and Saturday. As we wrap up National Volunteer Month, we can’t stress enough the vital role our volunteers play in helping us to meet the needs of our communities. So, to all our volunteers, past, present, and future, we say thank you. Thank you for your time, your energy, and your unwavering commitment to making the world a better place. We couldn’t do it without you.

To sign up to volunteer today: