Morgan Stanley Grant to Expand Program Delivering Nutritious Meals to AZ Children & Families

St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance recently received a $50,000 grant from the Morgan Stanley Foundation to fund its BackPack Program, which helps to ensure students continue to receive nutritious food during school breaks.

The grant is part of the Morgan Stanley Foundation’s recently announced $8 million, four-year pledge to support Feeding America, a nationwide network of 200 food banks, and its children’s hunger and produce programs. Since the firm’s partnership with Feeding America launched in 2009, the Foundation has given over $21 million, including $60,000 to St. Mary’s.

“We are thrilled to receive this important grant from the Morgan Stanley Foundation in support of our efforts to deliver more nutritious meals to children and families in Phoenix,” said St. Mary’s President and CEO Tom Kertis.  “Morgan Stanley and its employees provide vital support for St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance by generous contributions like this and many hours volunteering.”

St. Mary’s BackPack Program puts nutritious food directly into the hands of children at risk of hunger by filling backpacks with staples like peanut butter, milk, cereal, bread and canned goods.  With this program, children who are eligible to receive reduced-price or free lunch at school can get the nutrition they need, even when they are not in school over weekends or long breaks.

“We are honored to be able to help St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in its important fight against child hunger,” said Morgan Stanley Complex Manager Rob Gaines. “Our employees volunteer regularly with St. Mary’s so we are delighted to extend our support through this grant and provide even more children with the foods they need to learn, grow and thrive.”

Give a little time and help feed a family

Our volunteers are essential to the operations of St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, assisting in the sorting, boxing and bagging of food, providing administrative and fundraising support, and acting as advocates to bring about positive change. Join our volunteer team as an individual or group during weekday, weekend, daytime and evening opportunities.

For more information and to reserve your spot to volunteer, visit our new volunteer portal at volunteer.firstfoodbank.org. If you would like to learn more about volunteering, please click here for a list of frequently asked questions.

CHECK OUT OUR VOLUNTEER PHOTO ALBUM ON FACEBOOK AND ‘LIKE’ US TO KEEP IN THE LOOP

Upcoming Rock n’ Box events:

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Oregon, Kansas State fans team up to fight hunger before Fiesta Bowl

It is becoming a St. Mary’s Food Bank tradition – and quickly a University of Oregon tradition as well.

Two years after volunteering at St. Mary’s with Auburn University prior to the national championship game, the Ducks made a return visit to the world’s first food bank Thursday and invited their Fiesta Bowl foes from Kansas State to help fight hunger in Arizona.

The Oregon marching band, cheerleaders and Duck mascot joined more than 100 volunteers representing the Ducks and Wildcats to pack and sort more than 23,000 pounds of non-perishable food to build some of the more than 30,000 emergency food boxes St. Mary’s distributes each month. With three local television stations filing live reports at once amid all the activity, it was a wild morning at the Del E. Webb Center.

Many thanks to Student Affairs Vice President Robin Holmes and Sarah Smith-Benati of Oregon and Vice President Pat Bosco and Student Body Vice President Grant Hill for all their help. And good luck to both teams tonight at University of Phoenix Stadium as the fourth-ranked Ducks and fifth-ranked Wildcats do battle.

 

 

Happy 90th Birthday to Our Super Surprise Volunteer Jane Rau

St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance could not provide hundreds of thousands of meals across Arizona each day without the more than 93,000 volunteers who donated more than 370,000 hours of their time annually to help the hungry of Arizona.

Today we salute Jane Rau, a volunteer who has been helping the St. Mary’s facility in Surprise by sharing her time for the last 24 years.

Jan celebrated her 90th birthday on July 24 and her friends at St. Mary’s could let the day pass without a little … wait for it … SURPRISE Party! Surrounded by admirers and friends from her church group, Desert Hills Presbyterian from Carefree, a very special morning break was planned with lots of fun, laughter and sharing a birthday cake in honor of this very accomplished and caring woman.

Desert Hills was the very first group to step up to volunteer for Westside Food Bank when it was first founded. And though she leads a very full and busy life,  Jane comes to the Food Bank one a month to help with food sorting, as she has since 1988. When asked what contributes to her longevity, health and positive attitude on life, Jane says to “keep active” (she rides her bike four miles a day and loves to hike.)

Thank you Jane, for all you do for the Food Bank, and for sharing your smile and compassion with us all. A very happy 90th birthday and here’s to many more!

2011 ROCK ‘N BOX Season Starts Tuesday Night…Cooler Temps, Hot Music, Good Food…and Helping Others!

Yes, summer means the return of those 100-degree-plus temperatures. But there is also some good news:  Summer also means that Rock N’ Box — St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance’s volunteer packing parties – are back!

There is no better way for individuals, families and company groups to help their community and enjoy a great night of fun at the same time. Food and drinks will be provided before the event – along with a brief chat about how this event will help Arizona’s hungry. Then the music starts, the groove kicks in and as many as 150 volunteers begin sorting donated food and packing emergency boxes – a three-day supply of food designed to meet the immediate needs of a family or individual during a time of crisis.

Our first Rock ‘N Box event is THIS TUESDAY, May 10 beginning at 5 p.m. The temps are still cool (77 tomorrow!), but the Streets of New York pizza will be hot and the music will be thumping. All we need … is you! We still have about 20 spots left. Come find out how much fun helping the hungry can be.

You never know who will stop by at a Rock N’ Box – local celebrities, sports figures and team mascots, everyone from beauty queens to politicians to reality show stars have been spotted in the past.

Rock ’N Box will be held every other Tuesday Night in May (10th and the 24th), June (14th and 28th) July (12th and 26th), August (9th and 23rd) and September (13th and 27th) at St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance’s Del E. Webb Distribution Center (2831 N. 31st Avenue in Phoenix). The warehouse is open at 5 p.m. for food and the fun begins at 6 p.m.  Packing sessions usually last about two hours.

Registrations are now being taken for all eight Rock N’ Box events. Get your requests in early, because volunteers are capped at 150 for each event. Those interested in volunteering and rocking out can call the Volunteer Services Department at (602) 343-3128.

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

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

By NORA AVERY-PAGE, DAILY NEWS-SUN | 0 comments

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 mgrodil@firstfoodbank.org.

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 jkwells@firstfoodbank.org.

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

St. Mary's volunteer, 96, takes bite out of hunger

September 27, 2009 5:04 PM
Erin Turner
Daily News-Sun

Art Molay wakes up every day the same as he always has.

On Tuesday and Thursday he prepares for the day, gets in his car and heads over to the St. Mary’s Food Bank in Surprise, where he volunteers for three hour shifts, packing food boxes for the hungry and making meals for underfed children.

The Sun Citian has repeated the same routine for the last five years and joins hundreds of other volunteers whose dedication ensures the food bank meets the demand.

What makes Molay extraordinary, however, is the birthday he celebrated last Tuesday — number 96.

Molay is the oldest volunteer at St. Mary’s, and as it turns out, one of its most dependable.

Molay is part of a group of about 15 seniors from Temple Beth Shalom in Sun City, who volunteer each week at the food bank. Several of the members are in their 90s.

“They’re incredible. Not only are they mentors to the younger folks who come and volunteer with us they carry a living heritage with them,” said Elizabeth Wunsch, volunteer services manager. “You know they’re going to be here. You can count on them. They have an incredible work ethic. They teach by what they do. We can’t keep up with them.”

“Everything they do with a great amount of pride and a great amount of love,” she added.

For Molay, volunteering at the food bank allows him to combine his desire to help the less fortunate and children, who he “just loves,” with ample free time in need of filling.

“When (my wife) passed away I was cornered. I had to have something to do. One of the members of our temple suggested that I try this, and I’m forever grateful to her for doing so because they’re wonderful people, they make me feel at home and it fills in my day for me,” he said. “I feel sorry for some of the people who come here, I really do. I feel I’m very fortunate in that respect. I like keeping busy and being able to help as much as possible. I enjoy it.”

Molay said his “donation of time” to the food bank is a simple way to give back to the community.

“You have to have some innovation of some sort, some stimulus to (volunteer),” he said. “The only compensation you get is knowing that you’re helping people. As long as I can drive, I’m all right. That has always been my worry — that I’m going to become too feeble to drive and then I’m stuck. But so far I’m able to keep up with it physically and mentally (and) I’m happy to help.”

Without the dedication and time from volunteers like Molay and his friends, the food bank wouldn’t be operational, especially when the need has grown so much in light of the economy, food bank officials said.

“Our hours our volunteers provide us give us over 150 full-time staff positions. There is no way in the world we could function without them,” Wunsch said. “And this year our numbers have gone up 120 percent … we got slammed and the (volunteers) kept up. Whatever you give them to do, they want more. They actually are competitive, too.”

And unlike other St. Mary’s locations around the Valley, the west side facility is largely dependent on senior volunteers like Molay.

“What’s great about the volunteer base we have here is their consistency. We know every Tuesday we can count on this group,” said Irma Leyendecker, director of volunteer services. “Whereas some of our other facilities (we’re unsure) what we’ll have each day, here we know we can count on these people. It’s a close-knit family.”

For Molay, his second career as a volunteer is just getting started. He said he feels, “as good as ever” and plans to continue “as long as he’s physically able.”

“I’m lucky to be able to keep active,” he said. “That, I’m thankful for. I don’t have any secret … except I chose the right parents. Good genes. There’s no secret to it — just luck.”

For information about volunteer services or donations, visit www.firstfoodbank.org or call 602-242-FOOD.

Erin Turner may be reached at 623-876-2522 or eturner@yourwestvalley.com.

Michelle Obama volunteers at DC food bank

WASHINGTON (AP) — First Lady Michelle Obama is making good on her promise to actively volunteer in the Washington area, bagging food for hungry children at a local food bank on her husband’s 100th day in office.

Mrs. Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, joined more than 100 congressional spouses at the Capital Area Food Bank on Wednesday, passing out packages of wheat pasta and cans of pineapple as volunteers bagged 2,000 meals for low-income kids in the area.

This is the second time the first lady has volunteered for the hungry in the District of Columbia. In March, she served lunch to the homeless at a soup kitchen.

The event was sponsored by the food bank and Feeding America, a hunger relief group.

By MARY CLARE JALONICK

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5igDOKmv4O7OVfRr43JBsZ6TQifdQD97SAKHO2

How may we help you?

Brought to you by: Elizabeth.  The Volunteerwoman.         

A woman walks into the reception area. She is nicely dressed. She approaches hesitantly. In her hand is a white referral form received from a nearby agency. The volunteer at the front counter asks, “How may we help you?”  The woman breaks down in tears. The volunteer gently guides her to a seat and begins to talk to and comfort her. In the meantime, another volunteer processes the referral form and brings it to the pantry. As the woman calms down, a cart full of food (an emergency food box) is wheeled through the door by a third volunteer.

The woman, who has lost her job and her house, thanks the people who helped her. As she wheels the cart through the door, a couple with two small children walk up to the counter and a new episode begins.  

These volunteers responded to a call to service. Today, in the USA, there is a renewed call to service. This service will look different to each individual who chooses to answer. And no matter how grand or minute the appearance of this service, it will always have an impact. Below is a portion of a letter written to the volunteers at the Food Bank’s Westside location 

You astounded me with your compassion and generosity

              on the day I came in to ask for food. Never have I been in

              a situation, so poor that I needed help. I have been humbled

             and I am so thankful that you treated me with dignity

             and concern.

The world is calling! How will you answer?