A Letter from Our President & Chief Executive Officer . . . Tom Kertis

A Time To Bring Hope

Spring is a time of renewal, a time of fresh starts and a time of hope. For many local children and families in our community, they need that hope more than ever.

In Arizona, nearly 30% of our neighbors are considered working poor, working tirelessly at a job—or multiple jobs—to support their families. They can barely afford their rent and utilities, let alone nutritious food.

No one should have to skip meals to pay the rent. Your continued support ensures our neighbors have somewhere to turn when they can’t put food on their tables. That’s why I hope you’ll give today to our 2018 Annual Fund Drive to Fight Hunger in Arizona. Any amount you can give means more hungry children and families in our community will have the nutritious food they need.

With your compassion and partnership, we can put food on the tables of our neighbors who need it most. Thank you for being a vital part of fighting hunger in Arizona

Agency Spotlight: Harvest Compassion Center

Since 2011, the Harvest Compassion Center Phoenix/Maryvale has been serving guests throughout the Valley.

The HCC strives to be more than just a local food bank, it’s your one-stop shop! It is set up like a mini-mart and clothing boutique, where guests are welcomed to shop and choose their desired food items, hygiene products, baby items, various home products and clothing FREE of charge. We are open to the general public and provide service to anyone living in Arizona, as there are no pre-qualifications or appointments ever needed.

Our desire is to welcome and love every guest who walks through our doors offering a first class service experience! We love taking time with each family who visits us, having one-on-one interactions and conversations which lets each guest feel truly welcome. Our hope and prayer is to continue to serve those living in and around the Valley, as well as expand our reach to every underserved area of the state. The HCC’s have served over 22,000 families since opening, however, it is still each individual story that makes an impact on the staff and volunteers at HCC. 

This place goes above and beyond per Adrie Olson who nominated this agency. They take pride in allowing their guests to shop for their own items. In their mini-mart style shopping center, their guests feel welcomed and given a voice. Everything is spotless and looks perfect. The labels of each can and food/hygiene items on the shelf is facing out and in perfect rows. It’s just like a store.

From kids in school to someone looking for a job, families find the clothing items they need in the boutique. They can even change into the clothes they choose right away because every item is washed and dried and even ironed! They are a quality organization that strives for excellence in all they do.

Agency Spotlight: Lutheran Church of the Master

This month we’d like to highlight the work of Lutheran Church of the Master in Phoenix, Arizona who began partnering with St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in April 2013.

The food program at Lutheran Church of the Master is run entirely by volunteers who distribute food on the 3rd Friday of every month.  They have a sign up sheet at our church each month for members to sign up to volunteer and also partner with Life In Christ Lutheran Church, located around 75th Ave and Thunderbird, in recruiting volunteers.

Altogether they have about 20-25 individuals helping make the food program possible each month. The average age of each volunteer? 68 years young. Each month they look forward to volunteering and serve the community with lots of joy. Many of the volunteers arrive as early as 6:15am to start setting up the tables and bagging produce.

Lutheran Church of the Master also has a wonderful partnership with their local Safeway at 7th St. and Thunderbird. One volunteer will go to the store and borrow shopping carts for pantry clients to use and then returns them after the distribution. It is a wonderful way to involve volunteers so everyone feels a part of the process. This particular volunteer has health issues but insists on having these carts for the people in need. This makes it easier for clients to take and transport the food to their vehicles. The church has men and women in the parking lot to assist and get the carts back for the next shoppers in line. Overall, it is wonderful to see all the volunteers coming together to help out the community.

The church has a very efficient system of having the clients sign in and get in line. They have produce and other food items laid out nicely on the tables and have volunteers at each to let them know what is in the pre-bagged packages and how many of each item they can take. Next are the bread/pastry volunteers, which “are incredible”. These volunteers have all the breads/buns breakfast items all neatly displayed by product type and clearly tell the clients how many of each they can take. This all makes the line run smoothly and efficiently.

The church runs a collection of plastic grocery bags so they have bags that are easy to open and fill with produce each month. More volunteers will come prior to the distribution to lay out the bags in boxes to make them easy to store and access each month for the distribution.

They also offer free blood pressure checks each month- courtesy of two nurses who also volunteer with the food pantry. These nurses have also referred clients who needed medical help.

Overall, the volunteers find the joy in hosting a food distribution and the clients really enjoy the setup and how every volunteer makes them feel welcome. We are so happy to have wonderful partners, like Lutheran Church of the Master, all across Arizona. Thank you for all of the work that you and your volunteers do help serve the food-insecure in our state.

Is your partner agency going above and beyond and would like to be featured in an upcoming newsletter? Nominate your organization at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/D2S3Q77

The Joy You Bring

A Letter from Our President & Chief Executive Officer – Tom Kertis

You put nutritious food on the tables of hungry neighbors when
you support St. Mary’s Food Bank this holiday season. What you
may not be aware of is the joy you bring to the people you help,
especially this time of year.

With holiday celebrations and food seemingly everywhere, many
families often feel left out of the festivities — like they’re on the
outside looking in. That’s where your compassion and generosity
come into play.

I wish you could see the joy (sometimes accompanied by tears)
on their faces when they walk out of St. Mary’s Food Bank with a
box brimming with delicious foods — even turkeys — knowing
they too will be able to celebrate around the table. Truly priceless!

You are the reason for that joy. It’s only because of caring friends
like you that St. Mary’s Food Bank can get food to those in need
across Arizona. So thank you, and if you are able, please continue
your kind support with a generous gift today.

Every $1 you share provides 7 meals for children, families, and
seniors. Just imagine all the good you will do . . . all the joy you
will bring!

Best wishes this fall,

The Joy You Bring 1

50th Anniversary Celebration & Hunger Action Month Presented by Arby’s

“Go Orange,” and take action in September with our 30 Ways in 30 Days to help those in need. Support the fight against hunger!

Phoenix – The World’s First Food Bank celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017-18 and St. Mary’s Food Bank will kick off its golden anniversary festivities by joining other food banks across America by raising awareness and encouraging the public to make a special effort to help those in need during Hunger Action Month.

One in five Arizonans struggle with hunger each day of the year. One in four Arizona children in our state aren’t able to enjoy three meals a day. But these numbers can change if you take action, support St. Mary’s and earn some great benefits for yourself in the process.

How can you help? St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance’s “30 Ways in 30 Days” Hunger Action Month calendar, presented by Arby’s, provides an action or activity for every day in September so all Arizonans can step forward and help those struggling with food insecurity.

It can be as simple as making a cup of coffee or a brown-bag lunch at home and donating what you would have spent that day to help the hungry – every dollar donated will allow St. Mary’s to distribute enough food for SEVEN meals. Or you can take advantage of many ways to donate time, food or funds alongside some of the many local businesses who will step up during Hunger Action Month.

Governor Doug Ducey has proclaimed September as “Hunger Action Month” in Arizona.

Just some of the great events planned for the month include:

  • Donate $1 or more to St. Mary’s Food Bank at any Valley Arby’s location on Tuesday, Sept. 5 and you will receive a FREE Arby’s Classic Roast Beef sandwich on the spot!
  • Anyone who brings a donation of five (5) canned food items will receive FREE admission to Makutu’s Island (6919 West Ray Road in Chandler) all day on Friday Sept. 8 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.). Want an even better deal? Donate 10 cans and Makutu’s Island will present you with a complimentary FUNtastic Pass good for free admission for the rest of September!
  • To celebrate national “Go Orange Day” on Thursday Sept. 14, Arizona politicians and news personalities will mark the day by wearing orange ties, and other clothing items to raise awareness to the issue of hunger.
  • Oregano’s will hold its third annual “Carbs for a Cause” event from Sept. 18-22. Just order a pasta meal any day during the event and Oregano’s will donate THREE pasta meals to St. Mary’s on your behalf!
  • Volunteers from Arizona Ford Dealers will volunteer at St. Mary’s Knight Transportation Client Services Center on Wednesday Sept. 13 to assist clients with food boxes and donate 50,000 meals to the Food Bank.
  • You can enjoy a day of fun at Castles N’ Coasters on Saturday Sept. 23. A donation of 10 canned food items (excluding water and ramen noodles) will allow each person entrance into the park access to all the rides for just $10! That’s the lowest price all year, so get ready to take advantage. What a great way to help out!

There are many other ways to help and many other companies and groups who will hold events or volunteer their time during Hunger Action Month. Log on to stmarysfoodbank.org for a full calendar or click the calendar above of “30 Ways in 30 Days” activities. Click on each calendar square and read about that day’s event. Pick out the ones that appeal to you – or better yet, come up with an idea to help yourself and let us know what you’re up to on Facebook, Twitter  or Instagram so we can help spotlight your efforts!

50th Anniversary and Hunger Action Month

Celebrating 50 Years

The world’s first food bank is now the first food bank to turn 50 years old. St. Mary’s Food Bank will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2017-18, giving the public may ways to salute the guiding vision of founder John Van Hengel .

The fun begins in September with Hunger Action Month presented by Arby’s. It’s 30 ways in 30 days when you can help end hunger in Arizona though actions and donations of food, funds and time. Arby’s will join companies like U-Haul, the Arizona Ford Dealers, Charles Schwab, Oregano’s, the Phoenix Mercury, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Makutu’s Island and Castles & Coasters  in offering unique ways to spur public action. St. Mary’s will have an extend display of historical items and storytelling at the Arizona State Capitol Building in September and release a video chronicling its first 50 year and how Van Hengel’s vision of feeding Arizona and the world has blossomed.

Also in September, St. Mary’s will distribute its one BILLIONTH meal to the hungry of Arizona, signified by a special singular emergency food box packed by specially selected volunteers.

For more information on Hunger Action Month and how you can get involved, check out www.firstfoodbank.org/hungeractionmonth and the 30 ways in 30 days to fight hunger.

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.”

REDW named 'Chief Bean Counters' in the 18th Annual Hill of Beans Food Drive

St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance would like to thank the accounting and financial agencies that took part in our 18th Annual Hill of Beans food drive competition. ‘Bean counting’ companies from around the valley collected food and funds during the month of August in an effort alleviate hunger in Arizona….AND to be named the Chief Bean Counter. Each pound of food counted as one bean, and each dollar counted as seven beans. The total amount of beans collected was 49,599! We’ve tallied the individual results and we have a winner!

Our Chief Bean Counters this year is REDW with 25,025 beans! We can’t thank them enough!

Also participating this year:

Sigrist, Cheek, Potter & Huyser
Walker and Armstrong
Eide Bailly
Heinfeld Meech & Co. P.C.

Thank you to everyone for participating! We couldn’t do what we do without the generous support of our donors!

Action Alert: Federal Budget FRAC

This week, the U.S. House and Senate are expected to vote on FY2016 Budget Resolutions – and SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is being targeted. SNAP has extraordinary strengths, yet some would make disastrous changes to a program that serves millions of children, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, jobless adults seeking work, and those working – often multiple jobs – just to make ends meet.

In Arizona, 48% of SNAP participants are kids. That’s nearly a half million children who rely on SNAP benefits for their basic nutrition, and critical since 29% of children in Arizona go to bed hungry each night.

We need your voice – and the voices of thousands of others – to say that Congress should support SNAP.

St. Mary’s Food Bank joins our national partners Feeding America and the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) in showing the wide support for SNAP from people across the county.

Call Congress today!

Call Congress is easy. Here’s how:

  1. Just dial our toll free number, (888) 398-8702, listen to the pre-recorded message and enter your zip code when prompted.
  2. Once you are connected to your first Member of Congress, state that you are a constituent, and give your name and the town you are calling from.
  3. Let them know you are calling about the budget and deliver this important message: As your constituent and supporter/employee of St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, I am calling you today to ask you to vote against any efforts to cut or block-grant hunger-relief programs like SNAP when you consider the budget resolution.  SNAP benefits have already been cut twice in the last two years.  Our clients rely on these programs, and St. Mary’s Food Bank will be unable to meet the need in our community if these programs are cut.  Please find a more responsible way to balance the budget. 

Be sure to dial back in and speak with both of your senators and your representative.

Also, please sign the petition today and share it widely with your family and friends. Join us and tell Congress you want and end to hunger in America, not ill-considered budget proposals that would increase it.

Thank you for advocating for St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance!