The local food bank sees another spike in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and is anticipating record numbers for the rest of the year. The local food bank has seen a high number of clients since its first close in March. Food banks across the country have seen a similar increase.
Even though they don’t open Thanksgiving, the week leading up to it was record-breaking at Sahuarita Food Bank.
Executive Director Carlos Valles said that in about six hours from November 19-21, they fed more than 2,000 people, or 500 families.
“Thursday (November 19) is our busiest day,” he said. “And then Saturday (November 21) came along and the day actually surpassed Thursday’s record.”
Valles said this was three times what they had seen in previous years around this time.
“We didn’t expect the numbers we had,” he said. “We’ve actually checked most of the donations we received last week.”
Valles anticipates they will set records for the rest of the year, “especially right before the holidays.”
He said the food bank could use assistance as they approached Christmas.
“I just want to thank the public for all the donations in the last few weeks,” he said. “With more holidays to come, we will still need food that can be stored on the shelf, and cash donations are always welcome because we can use it to buy food that runs out.”
Valles said they also welcome anyone willing to do a food drive for them, and a food bank can arrange that.
Their food distribution takes place on Thursdays from 9am to 1pm, and Saturdays from 10am to noon.
Green Valley and Amado
Debby Acuña, manager of the Green Valley and Amado Resource Center, for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, said they saw a nearly 100 percent increase in visits during the two weeks preceding Thanksgiving.
“We’ve seen a few hikes, then pulled back a little and then jumped again,” he said. “The need tends to increase during the holiday season and this year in particular the story we heard about there was an extraordinary need. Another sad thing are phone calls from people who have never used the food system before, which has never been a necessity. We had a lot of new clients and that was very disappointing. “
He said that the increase was likely being felt by other CFBSA food banks and he hoped it was not over.
“Unfortunately, I anticipate this will continue until a new (federal) stimulus package comes into effect for the people,” he said. “We are prepared to meet the needs and will continue to do our best.”
They still use few volunteers due to health and safety precautions, but he says donations of nonperishable foods such as peanut butter and canned fish or meat are always needed.
Community Food Bank
The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona reported a large increase overall in the days before Thanksgiving.
CEO Michael McDonald said he could not speak to all of their locations but they consistently saw a nearly 100 percent increase in those served on this year’s pre-Thanksgiving distribution.
“Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increase of 30 to 50 percent and during the second half of the summer as the pandemic continues we see another big spike,” he said. “Historically, just before Thanksgiving was the biggest increase we’ve seen.”
McDonald’s said many food banks saw an increase in financial donations in the summer and they benefited from CARES funding. Federal aid will disappear by the end of December, depending on what the federal government decides to do next.
He said their food supply at the Community Food Bank was good, partly because they had restarted their food drive activities. According to him, the rest of the holiday season will return to the usual 30 percent increase in demand that they see from year to year. It’s a new year that looks like it will bring more needs.
“Through the rest of the calendar holidays, I think we will see significant improvements sustained but I think the bigger question is what will happen when the moratorium on evictions is lifted? What will the new year bring, “he said. “When people have to make choices between rent and utilities and buy food, people skimp on food. I think the demand will be higher or worse in the new year. “
He said volunteering would likely be a necessity at the local food bank, especially in the run-up to the new year, and financial contributions were always helpful.
To find volunteer opportunities at a Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona location, or for more information on how to help, visit communityfoodbank.org.
Jamie Refer | 520-547-9728