Monthly Archives: August 2009

2009 National Student Food Drive Kicks Off in September

The third annual National Student Food Drive kicks off on Sept. 14, with high schools from around the Valley looking to dethrone two-time champion Mountain Ridge High School and claim the coveted John van Hengel Memorial Cup for collecting the most food and cash donations.

St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance has a list of committed and active sponsors for this year’s event, including Revolution Tea, the Phoenix Suns, Sara Lee and KEZ-FM (99.9). A kick-off party is set for Sept. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Food Bank’s 31st Avenue warehouse where student representatives and faculty advisors will get a meal, their food drive T-shirts and ideas on how to creatively increase donations.

Teams can win a live KEZ radio remote at their school (schools must attend the kickoff party to be eligible) and other fun prizes while the winners will collect the John van Hengel Memorial Cup at center court before a Phoenix Suns home game at US Airways Arena later this fall.

There is still time for clubs, service organizations, student governments or even a classroom to represent their school and take on the challenge of helping to feed the hungry in Arizona. For more information, contact St. Mary’s Food Drive Coordinator Frank Bonner at (602) 343-3175 or by email at


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DON’T FORGET: Flagstaff Old-Fashioned Mountain Bike Race on August 22

The hills and trails of Northern Arizona are known as both a haven and worthy challenge for mountain bikers everywhere. And Flagstaff will be the site on August 22nd for the Eighth Annual Absolute Bikes/St. Mary’s Food Bank – Flagstaff Old-Fashioned Mountain Bike Race. Always a popular event, the 10-mile course is 65 percent single-track and 35 percent dirt road, climbing over 800 feet during each lap. The race begins at 9 a.m. and is limited to the first 300 entrants. There are men’s and women’s divisions in Expert/Pro and Single-speed (three laps), Sport and Beginner levels. In addition to the main event, there is also a children’s race immediately following the adult event. The entry fee includes five tickets in a raffle for prizes, highlighted by a Specialized 2009 Stumpjumper FSR Pro M5 bike frame.

Register on-line at Proceeds from all aspects of the event will benefit the Food Bank. Prizes include trophies for the top three places in each category and gift certificates to Absolute Bikes.

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St. Mary’s to assist Yavapai Food Bank

Prescott Valley Tribune
By Cheryl Hartz

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Three weeks ago, Yavapai Food Bank Director Ann Wilson prayed for help to fill the empty shelves. The media and community responded and the food bank didn’t have to turn away hungry people.

But this past week, her prayers were answered in an even bigger way.

“As soon as we were alerted there was another food bank in trouble, we set a plan in motion,” said Jerry Brown, community relationship specialist for St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in Phoenix.

St. Mary’s, the world’s first and largest food bank, committed to sending a 48-foot tractor trailer load of food once a week. That translates to about 30 pallets of food weekly, including produce, non-perishables, breads and pastries, according to Brown.

“We’ll start with this and see if that gets it done,” Brown said.

John van Hengel founded St. Mary’s Food Bank in 1967. While collecting donations for the St. Vincent de Paul community dining room, he learned about the food grocery stores threw away if the packages were damaged or near expiration dates. He persuaded store managers to donate this unsellable but still edible food to St. Vincent de Paul. When the dining room received more food than it could use, the food bank concept emerged. Van Hengel approached St. Mary’s Basilica as a central location.

The first year, some 250,000 pounds of food went to 36 local agencies. In the past year, St. Mary’s distributed 67.7 million pounds in 13 of Arizona’s 15 counties. It merged with Westside Food Bank in 2005, and with its vision to spread further into northern Arizona, St. Mary’s recently opened a new location in Flagstaff at what used to be the Care and Share, Brown said.

The weekly truckloads to YFB will come from Flagstaff, he said, and should “take care of needs for two to three days” each time.

YFB Director Ann Wilson was thrilled to get the news. Although the community responded strongly to her plea, the need is never-ending, as several other area banks depend upon YFB for their food supplies.

“We need food to continue to come in,” Wilson said. “These are the hardest months, at least through December, when holiday drives are in force. But the public’s response has been tremendous. (In addition to local help) I can’t believe how many checks we got in from the Phoenix area.”

The first truck arrives this morning.

“St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance is more than happy to help out a sister food bank,” Brown said.

For more information on Yavapai Food Bank, call 928-775-5255. To learn more about St. Mary’s Food Bank Allia or call 602-352-3640.

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Seven-year-old Cody wants to raise food for Food Bank

Seven-year-old Cody Mitchell was watching the evening news on television with his grandmother one night at their Glendale home when a reporter began talking about a 12-year-old boy who had been holding a charity book sale in his neighborhood.

He was holding the drive for the fifth consecutive year – something he started when he was only seven.

Cody watched. He smiled. And then he looked at his grandmother.
“I could do that,” he said.

And apparently, the first grader from Challenger charter School can “do that.” Now several weeks into his drive, Cody has collected over 200 books from family, friends and fellow parishioners at Desert Valley Light & Life Church.

Cody selected St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance as the organization he wanted to help because “people really need food right now” and will hold the “Books for Food” sale in his driveway at 5638 W. Greenbrier Drive on Saturday, Aug. 29.

“He’s a great kid and he really cares about people,” Cody’s mother, Elizabeth Mitchell, said. “His grandmother lives with us and Cody is always checking on her, making sure she doesn’t need anything and trying to help out. And when he saw a chance to help more people, he really got excited.”

ody is getting the word out and getting people excited about his drive. A fellow parishioner at his church who has visited St. Mary’s Food Bank in Glendale made Cody a T-shirt that reads “Help Me Feed the Hungry!!” for him to wear when speaking about the event and show off on the big day.

Paperback books will be sold for 50 cents, or one non-perishable food item, with hardbacks going slightly higher. Cody has already collected several bags of food from people supporting his effort and he plans to take the money raised from the drive to a nearby Costco market where can go shopping for the items the Food Bank needs the most.

“He’s putting all his time into collecting books, talking to people about how they can help and having the biggest drive possible,” Elizabeth Mitchell said. “As a mother, it makes you proud to see your child go to that much effort to help people.”

Cody will bring all the food he raised through the event to St. Mary’s in September, and he has also been invited to speak at the SMFBA Board of Directors meeting to talk about his accomplishment.

Anyone interested in donating books or making a cash or food donation to the drive can call (602) 843-0370 until Aug. 28 – the day before the event.Seven-year-old Cody Mitchell

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The Burrito Project

Geovanni Garcia, 17 years old, senior at North High School is part of the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance Summer Youth Program. He along another Youth Program participant Carlos Viera, 16 and a senior at Trevor Brown High School, accompanied me in the First Annual Burrito Project at La Tolteca. After the event Geo wrote a blog about his experience:

The Burrito Project
Alright, so today we had an interesting task asked of us. “La Tolteca Mexican Restaurant” asked us, if St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance would assist in helping to feed the community. They had their 1st Annual Burrito Project, which was an event in which the restaurant, along with members of the community, would prepare 3000 burritos in 3 hours. Once the massive quantity of burritos were made, the restaurant would donate them to the local soup kitchens, where they would be distributed to the community.

Over all, it was a very good experience. It feels nice to help other people besides myself, to benefit the unfortunate. It made me feel all warm & fuzzly inside. My new co-worker, Carlos, said, quote, “Every day, it is about yourself. Not today, it was all about others.” Think about it folks, put yourself in the shoes of those who can’t feed themselves or their families. Imagine having to choose between paying your bills or having dinner for the night. What it would feel like if you weren’t sure what the next day would bring; having to live in fear of the idea of starvation. Helping the community, and helping to ensure that the worst would not happen, that was the best part of it for me. To know that those families and children are not going to starve for another night, I can sleep well on that. Through helping out, we showed a great amount of teamwork. Everybody pitched in, proving that when everybody works together, we can accomplish great things.

Guest Blogger:
Geo Garcia

For images, click here.

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Supporting farmers’ markets that accept food stamps

Why this is important: some economists say that every $1 spent in food stamp benefits (now called the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) results in twice that in economic activity. And it allows those who could otherwise not afford healthy food enjoy some nutritious options.

Katie Zezima recently wrote in The New York Times that at the end of FY 2008, 34 percent more farmers markets were accepting food stamps — 753 across the U.S. Now that food stamps are processed like debit cards, states and the federal government are partnering more with nonprofits to make food stamp terminals available at farmers’ markets. Admittedly, this is no cheap task. Each terminal costs around $1,100 not counting ongoing associated fees.
But several states are finding the costs worth it, including Colorado, Montana, Iowa, New Jersey, and Maine. These states (and many others) can no longer say that food stamps are used solely by low-income residents – food stamp usage has surged, and those using them include an increasing number of people in the middle class.
Making a case for healthy food options is easy. And food stamp acceptance at farmers’ markets is a step in the right direction.

Read more about the case for food stamps here.

Guest Blogger: Melody Dowell

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St. Mary’s Food Bank delivers 15 million pounds of food in West Valley

Daily News-Sun

The St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance’s locations in Surprise and Glendale teamed to distribute more than 15 million pounds of food this past year in the Sun Cities and throughout the West Valley.

Click here to read more….

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