Monthly Archives: September 2008

Emergency Food Box Requests Skyrocket for Valley Food Banks

News Article courtesy of The Arizona Republic/John Faherty
http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2008/09/29/20080929ToughTimes.html

brought to you by Kara Ritter, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance Communications Specialist

Many are wondering…is it just the working poor who need help? Not surprisingly, the answer is no.

With the ecomony like it is, many working-class Americans who have stretched their needs from paycheck to paycheck have felt the devestation. The emergency food boxes provided by St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance and other food banks in the Valley are helping meet this need–but–at the rate the demand is requiring, without donations, we will have to turn people away.

That means people turning away couples, children with mothers and the elderly like I saw today in the lines to get boxes. People who held babies. People hiding from abusive ex-husbands. People too embarrased to tell their stories for an upcoming story on ABC 15 to talk about the state of our economy.

For those of you wondering about the status of St. Mary’s Food Bank, here is our update to report.

-St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance reports certain agencies we distribute to such as Phoenix Rescue Mission and Community Economic Development Alliance has seen a more than 100 percent increase in requests for Emergency Food Boxes.

We do not expect the increased demand trend to slow down anytime soon. The holidays are always challenging for those on fixed income and the working poor…. This holiday season is going to be significantly more difficult if current trends continue.

-St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance works with more than 700 agency locations in the Valley that rely upon the organization for emergency food supplies. The recent trend in demand to our Emergency Food Box program has increased more than 35 percent.

So far, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance has not turned anyone away without food but will only be able to maintain our distribution if donations are received.

-Currently, St. Mary’s Food Bank has offered support to St. Vincent DePaul to assist their emergency food box needs and is awaiting a response.

     To help this need, the public can make donations year-round at any U-Haul or Goodwill store location or make a monetary donation using St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance’s Web site at www.FirstFoodBank.org. For those interested in food drive opportunities or to volunteer, call (602) 242-FOOD.

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Shakira Highlights Children’s Poverty During Talk (AP)

brought to you by Kara Ritter, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance Communications Specialist

Passing this along….Vote! Vote! Vote! Wherever you live, whatever your beliefs, make your voice heard!

 

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By MESFIN FEKADU, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK – Shakira, a longtime activist for Latin American’s poor children, plans to make her Colombian children’s foundation a global one in the near future.

Shakira said Barefoot, known as Pies Descalzos in her native Colombia, will start focusing on children worldwide later this year.

“We have a model that works. Under less than $2 a day, we can provide a kid with top quality education and the nutrition that they need to be able to function and be able to learn because a kid with an empty stomach cannot learn,” said the singer, a multiplatinum superstar known for hits like “Hips Don’t Lie.”

“So this model that has been so successful in my country, now I want to bring it to other countries in my small way.”

Shakira made the comments Wednesday after appearing at Columbia University with Spanish singing sensation Alejandro Sanz and the presidents of Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay, El Salvador and Panama. The event focused on the importance of education, nutrition and health intervention for Latin American children. The singers asked the presidents to adopt an agreement on combatting child poverty during the upcoming Iberoamerican Summit in late October.

“The presidents seem very committed and that’s what we need. We need all the leaders of Latin America to have a definite commitment toward our children (because) the children of Latin America are waiting for opportunities,” said Shakira in an interview after conference.

Where I come from every child who is born poor will die poor and we have to change this, and this is the moment to do it. We are at the threshold of a new wave of awareness and sensibility toward our children’s issues. But early childhood development should be at the top of our priorities and at the top of every president’s agenda.”

In attendance were Mexican President Felipe Calderon; Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez; the president of Paraguay, Fernado Lugo; El Salvador’s president, Tony Saca; and Panamanian President Martin Torrijos. Also on hand was Dominican-born baseball star Sammy Sosa, Panamanian musician Ruben Blades and English rocker Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame, along with Nobel Prize-winning economist James J. Heckman and Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank.

The event was sponsored by the Earth Institute at Columbia, led by economist Jeffrey Sachs.

Shakira and Sanz are members of Latin America in Solidarity Action (the Spanish acronym is ALAS, or “wings”), a nonprofit coalition founded by Latin American artists, intellectuals and business leaders to promote social communities and early childhood development programs in Latin America. Earlier this year, ALAS held all-star fundraising concerts in Mexico and Argentina that helped secure $200 million in donations.

“I belong to a generation that is learning new ways to get involved in these issues. We are not a passive generation, we’re very proactive,” Shakira said. “We want to see all those brutal contrasts in our world disappear, we want to see poverty eliminated because we believe it is possible.”

She also talked about the upcoming U.S. presidential election, and urged Latino voters to use their voice and vote.

“I’d like to invite the Latino community to come out and make themselves present during this election because they can really make a difference,” she said. “I care deeply about this country and I think everyone does because America’s economy is so crucial for the rest of the world. The rest of the world’s economy depends on the economy of this country and world peace depends on the policies of this country.”

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On the Net:

ALAS: http://www.movimientoalas.org/default_es.asp

The Earth Institute: http://www.earth.columbia.edu/sections/view/9

Shakira: http://www.shakira.com

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Heather Mills Donates $1 Million to Food Bank: Extraordinary Person or Extraordinary Publicity Hound?

brought to you by Kara Ritter, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance Communications Specialist

 

Heather Mills, the activist, dancing star and ex-wife of Paul McCartney, sang a new tune last week when she gave $1 million of her famed $50 million divorce settlement to the Hunts Point Alliance for Children in the Bronx, N.Y.

 

The former model donated $1 million worth of veggie burgers, hot dogs and chicken cutlets for a barbeque during a daylong event to promote healthy living and well-being for children. The day included medical screenings and distribution of books and school supplies.

 

“These children live in the shadows of the biggest food distribution point in the Northeast, yet so many of them will grow up disadvantaged because of poor health,” Mills said on her Web site. “I want to show them that they, like me, can overcome any obstacles in their way. And that fight begins with nutrition and healthy living.”

While Hunts Point is the food distribution center for 30 million people, the neighborhood residents have the city’s worst rates of obesity, education and asthma, in part due to the industrial pollution of the Hunts Point markets. Nearly half the families in Hunts Point live below the poverty level.

Interestingly enough, Mills, dubbed “the most hated woman in Britain” (Yes, Camilla, you have company!) recently had a bit more “bad press” when Donald Trump fired her before she even started on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice”. This, after a dragged-out worldwide feud with Paul McCartney in which she likened her paparazzi plot with that of Princess Diana. Let’s face it: Even Barbara Walters didn’t like her…and she found something interesting about Fidel Castro. At this point, she is doing her own publicity in the UK because her own publicist quit when she started playing the tabloid wars.

 

To many of us, she may look like a typical celebrity milking the situation for the most she can. The $1 million donation tops her Web site and she easily received a certificate of special congressional recognition.

 

But does that really matter…if you a hungry? If you wake up without breakfast? If you don’t know how lunch will come your way? If, a meatless meat barbeque sounds, well even…delicious?

 

Whether you believe Heather Mills is doing some tactful defensive publicity work, or honestly wants to sing the praises of a vegan lifestyle that helped heal her leg when antibiotics didn’t work, the subject of genuineness is up to you.

 

The real question should be is she living the life of an extraordinary person making a difference in this world?

 

Are you?

 

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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?

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An Inspirational Interview

Brought to you by Cynde C, St. Mary’s Food Bank Director of Community Relations

I love doing interviews with our agencies, donors and volunteers. They all have such wonderful, warm hearts that talking to them reenergizes me in my job at the Food Bank. Friday morning, I headed up to Deer Valley and 15th Avenue to do another one of these uplifting interviews, but the story of inspiration that was related to me made it stand out from all of the stories I have written. 

When you meet Linda Larson you are first struck by her beautiful smile and positive personality. You can see why her fitness training business has been so successful. You feel good about yourself just being around her.

We had talked on the phone a couple of times to discuss the food drives she has held for the Food Bank in the past. And, we have seen each other in person (a rarity for most PR people – we live on the phone) at events, etc. Her warmth was so inviting; it was easy for us to talk about her story. You would think we had known each other for a while.

Elite Health & Fitness has been going strong for two years and Linda doesn’t intend to stop there. She has physical therapy facility opening in January and an occupational therapy facility is on the horizon, as well as an idea for a healthy-food restaurant franchise. It’s hard for me to imagine this unstoppable woman as homeless with her four kids and relying on agencies to provide her with a food box from St. Mary’s Food Bank and assistance with her utilities. But, after hearing her story, I know it is her infectiously positive outlook on life that kept her going and made her overcome her hardship.

Linda went through some rough times. She recognizes that everything happened to her for a reason, giving her a new confidence to conquer all of the things about herself she may not have liked before.

Two of her kids graduated cum laude from college, one is working successfully with race horses and the other is a senior in high school. And, from talking to Linda, I know she is the inspiration for their tenacity and drive.

Thank you, Linda, for a fantastic morning. You are one of the many reasons I love working at the Food Bank. We do make a difference in people’s lives…every day.

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Filed under Food Banking, Food Drives, Media, Volunteer

Think Before You Throw

Brought to you by: Hazel, Food Bank web site and design guru

 

I recently visited a large self-serve, all-you-can-eat soup and salad restaurant. I really enjoy going there because not only do they offer the best salad bar, but they also carry a variety of other foods and yummy treats. I met up with a friend and we sat down and enjoyed a great dinner and conversation while enjoying the night’s breeze on the patio.

 

Toward the end of our meal, a very sweet and polite waitress came over carrying a basket of sweets. She asked us if we would like to enjoy their freshly baked goodies.  Normally I would have passed on this tempting offer, but I thought maybe I could take one and save it for later. After accepting her offer, she proceeded to empty the rest of her basket on an empty plate while explaining how happy she was I was taking the rest of the treats.

 

Apparently the restaurant is very proud to offer fresh food and is the employees are required to throw away any and all food that is over 25 minutes or older! I suddenly felt punched in the gut! Working for a Food Bank this is obviously a very sour subject for me and I was floored to learn how easily food was disposed of by this company.

 

My nice relaxing evening suddenly turned into a massive brainstorming mission of how do we encourage and motivate companies to think before they throw? What steps are needed to inform not only this company but across the nation, across the world, that waste is not acceptable while people in our backyards are living day to day wondering where their next meal will come from.

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A Night at the Ballpark

Brought to you by: Cynde C.

Standing by home plate at Chase Field on Monday night, I was in awe at how big a baseball field really is. It looks large from the stands, but from the field, it is massive. Then, I was in wonder and awe at the two organizations that had our President and CEO Terry Shannon and I down on that field.

Gila River Casinos is an amazing partner that has helped the Food Bank grow its summer campaign to immense proportions. Our food drives doubled this year because of the message Send Hunger Packing enabled Food Bank staff to deliver to the public. I will give you our summer-by-the-numbers, and the numbers are wonderful, but please realize, it wasn’t nearly enough. We are still going into the holidays with some catching up to do.

Here are the numbers from May 15 – August 31, Send Hunger Packing:
$1.6 million
363 food drives collecting 481,381 pounds of food
97,877 hours from our volunteers

Imagine if we didn’t have Gila River to support us? Imagine if we didn’t have fantastic partners like the Diamondbacks or SRP putting in additional support? And, imagine if we didn’t have outstanding businesses and individuals rising to the Food Bank’s challenge of feeding more people in need over the summer? We wouldn’t be able to do any of it.

Thank you to everyone who sent hunger packing. And, thank you, D-Backs for hosting St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance last night. All of you have made more people aware of the hunger issue in Arizona.

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