Summer Feeding program expands to bridge the gap

Each summer, donations to the food bank decrease while demand for services spikes upwards – with many children at home and no longer receiving the free or reduced-lunch meals offered at school. For many families, providing two additional meals at home is an overwhelming hardship.

St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance seeks to bridge that gap for as many families as possible, providing meals each weekday and, at many locations on Saturdays as well.

Once again this summer St. Mary’s assumes sponsorship of the 2014 Summer Food Service Program for Children and will provide approximately 5,000 meals at a record 99 private and public sites around the Valley.

See list of locations

First-ever Hot Meals Roll Off Production Lines of the St. Mary’s Food Bank Kids Cafe Program

Monday was a proud and happy day at St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance. The first-ever Kids Cafe hot meals rolled off the production lines at our Discount Tire Kids Cafe Production Center late this morning, ushering in a new era for the Food Bank when it comes to feeding Arizona’s hungry children.

About 150 servings of beef stroganoff with noodles and gravy, roasted broccoli, Asian spiced pear cup, bread roll and milk were delivered to selected Kids Cafe sites and will be consumed this afternoon. By the end of the school year, Kids Cafe projects that more than 1,000 kids will be enjoying this hot meal component that now joins the traditional cold meal/sandwich meals are currently served at more than 40 Kids Cafe locations.

This “dinner” meal served to children who are enrolled in the school breakfast and lunch programs is an important cog in improving learning ability and comprehension among at-risk kids. St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance and Kids Cafe are committed to the idea that no child deserves to go to bed hungry, and today’s advancement is another step in that direction!

Video of 1st Day

More than 3,000 times a day, smiling faces thank Kids Cafe and you for a much-needed Meal

One in four children in Arizona live with poverty on a daily basis and do not know where their next meal is coming from. Each day, the Kids Cafe® Program of St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance distributes more than 3,000 late afternoon meals to kids who may not have anything waiting for them at home that night.

A sandwich. A piece of fruit. A small carton of milk. Things so many of us take for granted each day – but these items are the difference between going to bed hungry or happy.

We checked in on the kids at one of the more than 40 Kids Cafe sites this week and the smiles, happy sounds and thank-you’s said it all. Some chomped on a sandwich while doing homework. Others sipped milk while socializing. It was loud, but it was a good sound. Kids fueling up for the rest of the day. All thanks to you.

A reminder that the 11th Annual Kids Cafe Open golf tournament, presented by Barro’s Pizza, is coming up on Friday, Mar. 30 at the fabulous Wigwam. There are still openings for individuals and foursomes and still time for your business or organization to donate items for raffle prizes. All proceeds from the Kids Cafe Open go to make sure these kids – and hopefully thousands more – will not know a night without hunger and enjoy another fun-filled day of hope. For more information, please contact Christina Calio at 602.343.3148 or email

No kid deserves to go to bed hungry. 

Sign-a-Rama Provides Kids Cafe Open Signs on St. Mary’s Trucks

St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance would like to thank Ken Parsons and Sign-a-Rama for the great graphics promoting our Kids Cafe Open on all our St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance trucks. With our fleet logging approximately 1,000 collecting and distributing food each day, it’s a great way to let everyone know that it’s once again time to tee off on hunger!

We still have room for individuals, foursomes and those who would like to donate auction items to the 11th Annual Kids Cafe Open on Friday, March 30th at the fabulous Wigwam gold and blue courses. Call (602) 343-3148 for more information or log on to

Join Terry for a Round of Golf and Help Feed Kids in Need

Jerry Colangelo, Honorary Tournament Chairman and Terry Shannon, President and CEO invite you to the

11th Annual Kids Cafe Open on Friday, March 30, 2012, Tee off at 7am

One in four children in Arizona lives in poverty and is at risk of going to bed hungry tonight – an unacceptable statistic but a fact of life in our state. But you can help in the fight against childhood hunger and enjoy an incredible day of golf at one of the Valley’s most picturesque locations on Friday, March 30th at the 11th Annual Kids Cafe Open.

Proceeds from this tournament will got support Kids Cafe, a St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance program dedicated to feeding thousands of children around our state who might otherwise go without eating each day. Kids Cafe sites are located across the Valley and offer at-risk children a late afternoon meal in a safe environment – and for many, it is their last opportunity to eat for the day.

Hosted by The Wigwam, Gold and Patriot Courses.

Prizes per course – Plus Complimentary Polo Shirt, Food, Spirits and $50 Gift Certificate for Golf Gear.

To find out more about how you can help and participate in our golf tournament,
Click Here or contact Christina Calio at 602-343-3148 or

Kids Cafe in Surprise calls for Volunteers with Grand Opening Approaching on April 7th

Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 1:45 pm


Volunteers from the Sun Cities who devote time to the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in Surprise don’t want Arizona children to go to bed hungry.

They see the faces of hunger while others just see statistics:

• One in four children in the state are living in poverty, amounting to more than 260,000 children in Maricopa Country alone.

• In Surprise, nearly 24 percent of households fall at or below the poverty level.

• Arizona ranks dead last in an America’s Health Ranking study with the greatest number of children in poverty.

The St. Mary’s Kids Cafe program is working toward changing those numbers by offering daily meals to impoverished children.

“Child hunger is getting worse,” said Laura Brill, the Kids Cafe manager, calling these statistics “disturbing and unacceptable.”

The program feeds about 1,700 school-age children at 32 different locations every day, but with a new building expansion, Brill hopes to expand that number to 3,000 over the summer and 4,000 by the end of the year.

The program will be moving next week to a renovated former storage space in the westside location of St. Mary’s, so volunteers and staff can pack, store and assemble the meals, which include sandwiches and fruit and vegetables, all in one place.

The volunteers appreciate the commitment to the westside location, said Jan Wells, who helps coordinate the volunteers.

“Everybody is very excited,” she said.

Wells hopes to expand the menu offered. Right now, volunteers make up ham sandwiches, beef and ranch wraps or other varieties of sandwiches.

“Our goal is to provide that nutritional meal,” she said.

Brill said children living in poverty don’t eat well because it’s usually the highly processed foods lacking in significant nutritional value that are the cheapest to buy and that leads not only to poorer general health, but fatigue, hospitalizations, behavioral difficulties and impaired performance in school.

Brill said the goal of the program, which exists on a combination of donations and government funding, is to give children consistent daily nutrition, and it’s about giving them both quantity and quality food.

“This is the future of Arizona, and we feel like we need to invest now,” Brill said.

It’s important to sustain that nutrition during the summer, and more difficult to do because the children aren’t in school, she said.

“We want to kind of keep them steady,” Brill said. “We want the kids to be ready for when school starts back up.”

The goal is to expand the Kids Cafe program to make 8,000 meals a day, but that’s a few years down the road, she said.

And for both the current and future expansion, the food bank needs new volunteers; both Brill and Wells emphasized their appreciation for the volunteers and the support of the Sun Cities and Surprise communities.

But it takes a lot of work, Brill said, stressing the need for volunteers looking for a more in-depth project who can adopt a Kids Cafe site to set up and track the program.

“We want to make sure we’re very mindful in our planning,” Brill said, explaining she doesn’t want to have to say to the children at the sites: “Sorry, we messed up, we’re not going to feed you anymore.”

If the program doesn’t get enough volunteers to visit sites, it can’t have as many locations and won’t be able to feed as many kids, Brill said.

The Kids Cafe program is also looking for potential new locations for the meal sites, which can be any place children have access to, from a church, playground or pool, or an apartment complex.

Volunteers interested in doing site visits can call Grace Rodil at 602-343-5629 or email her at

For volunteers looking to help prepare meals or do other work for St. Mary’s Westside location, call Jan Wells at 602-343-5637 or reach her by email at

Different sites looking to participate can call Melissa Jensen at 602-647-1820

Turn Uncle Ben's Rice Purchase Into Help For Kids Cafe

From now through October, every purchase of an Uncle Ben’s rice product will result in a donation to Feeding America’s Kids Cafe program to fund the development of new locations in the U.S. as well as the planned expansion of St. Mary’s Kids Café around the state. In addition, when you sign on to and sign Ben’s journal, Uncle Ben’s will donate an additional $1 for each signature added to the list.

Art for all Generational Hearts!

elizab1brought to you by Elizabeth Wunsch, Volunteerwoman

A beautiful night for an auction. A spanning of generations. A gift for old and young. Art from the Heart!

The Madison Retirement Community in Sun City West wanted to help children in need. Hungry children. How does one do that in an exciting way? What organization has a program to feed hungry children? St. Mary’s Food Bank Kid’s Cafe Program was there answer. The program provides after school meals to children across the Valley who are in need. The meals are prepared each day by senior volunteers at St. Mary’s Food Alliance’s Westside facility.

Older generation extending their hearts to the youngest.

How could one help Kid’s cafe and get the message of “Heart” across? The Madison decided to hold an auction.

An auction of artwork provided by the children who are receiving Kid’s Cafe meals. The artwork depicts their hopes and dreams of the future.

pretty-ladiesMy heart was taken when I felt the joy of one of the seniors when she purchased on of the pictures. Carolyn, a vibrant soul, was ecstatic because she had won the bid on a picture of a veterinary hospital that one young girl had created. Carolyn’s daughter owns five veterinary clinics in New York City and will be receiving this picture as a gift from Carolyn. Hope and joy for three generations! Many fine pieces of hope from aspiring children helped raise money for the Kid’s Cafe Program!

A special shout out to The Madison for an inspiring idea, especially Crystal McRae, the sales/marketing director who helped coordinate the event and Jim and Brigitta Augustine, Managers of The Madison who hosted the unique benefit. Thank you to Peter Piper Pizza who donated pizza prize packs for the students. Kid’s Cafe Queens Laura Brill and Jessica Herrera coordinated the art projects from all the different sites. Hats off to VP of Development Jack Marks and his wife Lois attended and spoke at the event and Business Development Officer Christina Calio championed this event with her enthusiasm to spread the word and get the community rallied behind local businesses for St. Mary’s Food Bank.

How can helping others inspire you? What can you do to bring the generations together and help others in need? The ideas are endless and putting them in action is a community effort worth the sweat equity. If you have an idea you want to put into action, contact us today.

Elizabeth Wunsch, Volunteer (Super) Woman


p.s. For more information on Kid’s Cafe, click this link.


It's peanut butter and jelly time.

Brought to you by: ~Melody~

Filming for the Food Bank video continues, this time at Glendale Community Center at 54th Avenue and Ocotillo.  Glendale Community Center is one of 27 sites in the Valley that partners with the Food Bank for the Kids Cafe® program.

Of those receiving emergency food in Arizona, 41 percent are children and seniors. The mission of Kids Cafe is to alleviate childhood hunger in Arizona by providing nutritious meals in a safe, accessible and nurturing environment to children at-risk of hunger…because no child deserves to go to bed hungry.  Click here to learn more about the program.