Monthly Archives: February 2009

Desperately Seeking Susan (And Everyone Else Too)


Arizona Department of Economic Security to begin referring people seeking emergency food boxes directly to St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance


Phoenix, Ariz. – Because of an overwhelming spike in demand for food assistance, the Arizona Department of Economic Security will begin Monday directing all applicants directly to St. Mary’s Food Bank locations for registration. Because the Food Bank will now be filling out paperwork traditionally completed by DES, Food Bank officials are anticipating sharply increased traffic and longer wait times as they work to register individuals.


“This has the potential to be overwhelming to our distribution system,” said Terry Shannon, President and CEO of St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance. “More people will be coming to us for help, and they will be staying longer because we’ll need to collect the information the state used to provide to us.”


To help process the anticipated influx, St. Mary’s Food Bank is seeking volunteers who will be trained to work in a clerical capacity  to assist clients, write up emergency food box referrals, and explain the requirements for getting food assistance from St. Mary’s.

Help will be most needed at:
Glendale Facility
5605 N. 55th Avenue



Community Service Campus
3003 W. Thomas Road
For more information, call (602) 343-3128.

Food bank officials are also temporarily reassigning staff to help with the anticipated increase in demand, Shannon said.


The news comes at an already critical time for the food bank, he said. Demand for food is up 50% over last year, and in January, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance distributed more than 22,000 emergency food boxes, a 64% increase over last year.


“The demand for food hasn’t lessened since the holidays, but the number of volunteers helping us has,” Shannon said. “And now we find ourselves filling an additional role in order to help the community. For those who are interested in volunteering, this is an excellent way to not only help us, but to help their neighbors, and to see what an impact the food bank’s outreach has on individual lives.”


According to published reports, Arizona has added 123,000 food-stamp recipients since the recession began in December 2007, giving the state one of the nation’s fastest-growing caseloads. Overall, 721,318 Arizonans were receiving assistance as of November, according to the state. In 2008, the average monthly benefit per person was about $102, USDA figures show. That amounts to less than $3.40 in aid per day.


The emergency food boxes distributed by the Food Bank contain supplemental groceries to provide nutritional support. The box of staple food items supplies is intended to help stretch a household’s monthly food budget. 



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Call Your Senators!

phoneThe Senate has not yet completed work on their version of the Economic Recovery Bill. The House did not include any money for The Commodity Supplemental Food Programs (CSFP).

The Commodity Supplemental Food Programs (CSFP) is a Federally funded program, which works to improve the health of low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women, other new mothers up to one year postpartum, infants, children up to age six, and elderly people at least 60 years of age by supplementing their diets with nutritious USDA commodity foods. It provides food and administrative funds to States to supplement the diets of these groups.

This will be our last chance to be included in the bill. Call your Senators right now and ask them to include $30 million for CSFP. We have more seniors that need our program than we can currently provide for.

Call now!!  US Capitol Switchboard – 202-224-3121, ask for your Senators

Thank you!

Your Friends at St. Mary’s Food Bank

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(CNN) From $100,000 a Year to Unemployed

By Wayne Drash

Eric Bell worked his way into middle management during his nearly 10-year career at eFunds, a financial services company in the Phoenix, Arizona, area. He made about $100,000 a year, and his career was on the up. Times were good.

But it came to a crashing halt in May when his job was slashed after another company acquired eFunds. No big deal, he thought, a guy like me with an MBA can get a new job quickly.

Seven months later, the 41-year-old father of a 5-year-old boy has yet to find a full-time job. He now files for unemployment benefits every week online — a check totaling $216.

“I never envisioned that my job search would take so long, and it’s still ongoing,” the Arizonan wrote to CNN’s user-generated site.  “The fall was very frustrating as companies put everything on hold with the economy falling apart.”

He added, “You hear horror stories of 300-plus resumes being submitted for the most basic job — very challenging prospect to get your resume read. The key activity to obtain quality interviews is networking. Unfortunately, it is a slow process.”

But Bell was fortunate. He received a three-month severance package when he was pink-slipped, and he and his wife over the years did what financial experts say everyone should do: Live within your means, keep your mortgage low, pay off your cars and build up an emergency six-month cash fund for when hard times hit.

Without that rainy day fund, Bell said, his situation would be much more desperate.

“It’s dwindling,” he said of the emergency cash. “Our first goal once I get hired is to rebuild that fund.”

His wife has a professional job, helping maintain cash flow for the family. But still, Bell said, more than half of the family’s income has disappeared. He said he’s better off than most unemployed Americans and his family is “fortunate.”

He might have less money, but he said unemployment hasn’t stripped him of his optimistic outlook.

“For somebody that’s unemployed right now, you need to turn off the news,” he said. “It will affect the positive attitude you need to have. You’ve got to be positive, because it’s not easy. All you read is the job cuts: It can be very depressing.”

Bell has three tips for people like himself who are unemployed:

• Remain positive;
• Analyze yourself and figure out what you’re best at;
• Network as much as possible.

“You can’t sit in front of the computer all day and go: ‘Woe is me, why is this happening to me?’ You’ve got to get out and network,” he said.

That type of attitude is exactly what somebody in the unemployment ranks needs to have, said Erik Fisher, a psychologist and co-author of “The Art of Managing Everyday Conflict.”

“Life is about lessons, and it’s about learning. In this situation, it’s not about feeling bitter and resentful. It’s about moving forward,” Fisher said.

Fisher said that all too often people fall into a “victim mentality,” often blaming others for their plight. While that might be natural to a degree after losing a job, it’s not the best way to move on, he said.

“What I like about this guy is that he’s not a victim,” Fisher said upon learning about Bell’s situation. “If we had a world full of these guys, then we wouldn’t be in this mess. He didn’t look to take advantage of what was given to him.”

He added, “Even when things fell apart, he wasn’t looking at what the world was going to do for him. He was still looking at what he could do for the world. He’s going to learn from it. He’s going to get a better job. He chooses to see it as an opportunity.”

The nation’s economic hard times were reinforced last week when major corporations announced more than 100,000 job cuts. In 2008, nearly 2.6 million jobs were lost, the highest yearly total since 1945.

In times such as these, it might be easier to feel like a victim. But Fisher said Americans must remain optimistic for the betterment of their future and for the sake of the nation. He advises clients at the end of every day to ask themselves: “Did I live my life with truth, honor and integrity today?”

“Failure is only an emotion, but it becomes a reality when we quit,” he said.

Bell has no plans to quit his job hunt. He continues to network through Web sites such as LinkedIn and attends events hosted by the local chamber of commerce.

He also took a four-month coaching seminar. “You have to have your story in line so that people will say, ‘That’s interesting and I need you for my company.’ ”

Last week, he began working a contracting job for a multimedia company. It’s not his ideal job, but it’s better than nothing, he said.

“Once they see how I work and how I can help them, they may decide we can’t live without this person,” he said. “I am positive I will come out of this situation with a better job.”

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(CNN) Tough choices for America’s hungry


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