Thirty-thousand pounds of relief items are headed to Corpus Christi and Victoria, TX this week. The two truckloads of food and supplies sent by St. Mary’s Food Bank will benefit the hurricane victims in Texas, but have depleted supplies in St. Mary’s warehouses located in Phoenix and Surprise.
Local food banks that donated meals to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey are now seeking ways to refill their own food supplies in order to continue the fight against hunger in their own communities.
To help replenish St. Mary’s Food Bank, Arby’s donated $50,000 and held a promotion offering a free roast beef sandwich to those who donated $1 to St. Mary’s on September 5th.
“We did bring a check to St. Mary’s in the amount of $50,000, that we’re donating for them to build back their food bank,” Arby’s Director of Operations Chandler Moore said. “Obviously with the hurricane in Houston they shipped a lot of their food there to help out so were doing our part to give back to them as well.”
Every Tuesday, volunteers from Mercy Hill Church and St. Mary’s Food Bank come together for what St. Mary’s Director of Public Relations Jerry Brown calls “Tuesday Pantry”, an event that provides food for 200-300 families in need.
“…a lot of the people come here and they’ll have baby carriages, they’ll have covered wagons, they’ll have laundry baskets, whatever they can carry food in,” Brown said, “and we try to give them both non-perishable food that you see in here, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.”
This week, volunteers from St. Mary’s Food Bank and the Mercy Hill Church were joined by members of the Arby’s team.
“Arby’s partners up with St. Mary’s a few times a year,” Moore said, “We all live here in the community so we all want to give back in times that we can. It’s obviously important to us to put a smile on people’s faces and watch them feel appreciated in events like this.”
St. Mary’s Food bank hosts the “Tuesday Pantry” at Mercy Hill Church from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., every Tuesday. St. Mary’s Food Bank relies on the help of volunteers from Mercy Hill Church both at “Tuesday Pantry”, and every Monday evening when they drop food off at the church for preparation.
Med Skeens, a pastor at Mercy Hill, described the church as a necessary middle-man between these bigger agencies and the community.
“We’re a conduit,” Skeens said, “taking the gracious hands of large help in business agencies, in government agencies, faith based agencies and we allow and bring volunteers and a place to store, so we can touch the most vulnerable with good food.”
St. Mary’s is one of the largest food banks of the world, and they’re based here in Arizona.
“We help out in other states when asked,” Brown said. “Hurricane Harvey just happened in Texas, we sent a truckload over there, we’re sending another truckload this week. We are a first responder to national disasters, but 99.9% of our food stays in Arizona and helps Arizona’s hungry.”
Poverty in Arizona is around 17 percent, but in the area surrounding Mercy Hill Church it is about 30-35 percent, according to Brown.
“It’s an injustice, and we’re helping people who can’t get good food,” Skeens said. “You go to a poor area and you know what they have? Poor food stores. They have liquor stores; you have to go buy a Twinkie.”
It’s important that these communities receive help and support, and St. Mary’s Food Bank can provide that support as long as they have the necessary funds.
If you wish to volunteer at Mercy Hill’s “Tuesday Pantry”, you can contact Mercy Hill Pastor Ricky Lee Aulds at 919-623-7948.
To find out more ways to end hunger in Arizona, visit www.firstfoodbank.org .