St. Mary’s Food Bank Celebrates 55 Years of Service

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It all started right here at St. Mary's Food Bank

You may not know that St. Mary’s Food Bank is the first food bank in the world! Back in 1967, our founder, John van Hengel, was volunteering in a soup kitchen and saw that there was a need to provide food to people living in poverty.

Fifty-five years ago, van Hengel’s idea would revolutionize the public service industry around the world. Ultimately converting food industry ’leftovers’ into nutritious meals for the hungry in his community in Phoenix, Arizona.

John van Hengel needed support, and asked his local parish, St. Mary’s Basilica for help to get his idea to come to life. Van Hengel named his food bank St. Mary’s Food Bank in honor of that first gift that started it all.

John van Hengel went on to become the founder of several other food banks and he later founded the National organization that we know today as Feeding America, as well as a worldwide organization called the Global Food Banking Network. But it all started right here in Phoenix, Arizona at St. Mary’s Food Bank.

That year, back in 1967, St. Mary’s Food Bank provided 250,000 pounds of food to people in need. Since then, St. Mary’s Food Bank has grown tremendously in the last 55 years and today, we provide more than 300,000 meals every single day!

Watch Our Documentary to Learn More About St. Mary's Food Bank.


Thanks to your support, we've touched countless lives.

With the support of our generous donors, and the help of over 1,000 partner agencies, St. Mary’s Food Bank distributed 123,196,181 pounds of food last year throughout most of Arizona.

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