St. Mary’s Remains Largest Food Bank in the United States; Nearly 400,000 Emergency Food Boxes Distributed Through Food Bank and Partner Agencies
Breaking its own 43-year-old record for the second consecutive year, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance distributed an all-time high 72,262,239 pounds of food during fiscal year 2009-10 – the most of any food bank in the United States by a margin of more than 10 million pounds.
The distribution figure is a 6.8 percent increase over the then-record 67,687,217 pounds of food distributed in fiscal year 2008-09, which was the most ever distributed by St. Mary’s since it was founded by John van Hengel in 1967 as the world’s first food bank. At a rate of more than six million pounds a month, the numbers indicate that the need for emergency food in Arizona continues to grow as does the need to find new sources of food and funds to meet that demand.
In just two years, St. Mary’s distribution totals have risen more than 66 percent, from 43.4 million pounds in 2007-08 to the current 72.2 million pound total. The biggest jump has come in emergency food distribution – often first-time visitors to the food bank who through unemployment or underemployment are forced to seek help in feeding their families for the first time. The 399,167 Emergency Food Boxes distributed this year is a 105 percent jump over the 193,825 “EFBs” distributed in 2007-08.
St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance has been able to respond to the demand only through the benevolence of the people of Arizona: from individual donations and tributes; to donations from corporations, companies and businesses; to the more than 86,000 individual volunteers who donated more than 386,000 hours in 2009-10, a workforce that equates to more than 150 full-time employees, that collected, sorted and inspected food and packed it into emergency food boxes for those in need in the community.
“We are proud to be the largest food bank in the country for the second consecutive year, but it comes with the grim reality that so many people in Arizona are counting on St. Mary’s and those who donate and volunteer at the Food Bank as a lifeline,” St. Mary’s Food Bank President and CEO Terry Shannon said. “From Phoenix, to Surprise to Flagstaff, the need has been recognized and the call has been answered.
“We move into another year knowing that food insecurity will remain a reality and could still become one for more families as the current economic conditions persist. And we will continue to count on those who recognize the importance of helping their community as the catalyst to continue our mission.”