Category Archives: Food Banking

Grand Opening of New Kids Cafe® Facility Expands Production of Meals For Hungry Children

It was a long-awaited, much-anticipated celebration of progress on Apr. 7 when the Kids Cafe program opened the doors to its new meal preparation facility at the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance Surprise facility.

The Kids Cafe program provides an important after school meal for at-risk kids who receive breakfast and lunch at school but in many cases don’t have a dinner meal waiting for them at home. One in four children in Arizona today are living in poverty, amounting to more than 260,000 children in Maricopa Country alone. Kids Cafe seeks to feed as many school-age children as possible.

“This expansion has been years in the making, and we’re very excited that the day is finally here,” said Laura Brill, Kids Cafe program manager. “The statistics of childhood hunger in Arizona are disturbing and unacceptable. This is the future of Arizona, and we feel like we need to invest now.”

What was a 200-square-foot area for volunteers to make sandwiches has expanded to an 8,500-square-foot facility that will allow the program to immediately expand from the current level of 1,700 meals per day to 3,000 by this summer and 4,000 by the end of 2011. The ultimate goal is to reach 8,000 to 10,000 meals by 2013, with the introduction of hot meals for the first time.

Currently, about 40 volunteers prepare the sandwiches, fruits and vegetables for the daily Kids Cafe meals. But more volunteers are now needed to keep up with expansion and to perform site-checks for future program sites. Anyone interested in volunteering should call Grace Rodil at (602) 343-5629 or Melissa Jensen at (602) 647-1820.


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Filed under Events, Food Banking, Volunteer, Westside

KSLX-FM’S Mark Mayfield & Sleep America to Host 5th Annual ‘Get In Bed With Mark’ Food Drive to Benefit St. Mary’s Food Bank

Three-day Radio-thon Runs From April 6-8 All Over The Valley With Goal Of Spreading the Word About Dire Hunger Issues Now Affecting Arizona

Phoenix – Fast-becoming an early-April Arizona tradition, KSLX (100.7 FM)’s morning man Mark Mayfield is getting ready to get back into his Sleep America bed for the fifth annual “Get in Bed with Mark” food drive to benefit St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance.

One of the Valley’s most popular morning personalities, Mayfield will begin his three-day live marathon at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, April 6 at Sleep America’s Glendale location at the Lane Home Furnishings Center (7291 W. Bell Road, Ste. 101A). He will literally hop into a Sleep America bed aboard a flat-bed truck and collect both non-perishable food items and cash donations for St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance – all while interviewing local celebrities, holding challenges, and talking about the need in Arizona.

At the end of the drive, Mayfield will raffle off the queen size Kingsdown bed, provided by Sleeping America, which will have served as his home for the three-day radiothon. And this year, Sleep America will introduce a new and exciting event for the last day. On April 8th, the Paradise Valley location will host “The Great Bed Race for Charity.” Five-member teams can still sign up for their place in the field with a $100 donation to the Food Bank.

“Get in Bed with Mark” collected more than 18,000 pounds of non-perishable food items and more than $14,000 in cash last year – providing more than 116,000 meals for St. Mary’s Food Bank to distribute to the hungry of Arizona. KSLX, Sleep America and St. Mary’s are all hoping to duplicate the success of last year’s event.

Mayfield and his Sleep America bed will leave the Glendale location at 10pm on the 6th, and from 6am – 10pm on Thursday, April 7, he will be at Tempe Marketplace (2010 E. Rio Salado Pkwy, Ste. 115) giving the East Valley listeners a chance to participate. The drive will finish off at the Paradise Valley Mall (4320 E. Cactus Road, Ste. A1) from 6am – 6 p.m. on Friday, April 8, with the Great Bed Race capping almost 50 hours live on the air.

For more information on the “Get in Bed with Mark” food drive or The Great Bed Race, visit or

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Kids Cafe in Surprise calls for Volunteers with Grand Opening Approaching on April 7th

Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 1:45 pm


Volunteers from the Sun Cities who devote time to the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in Surprise don’t want Arizona children to go to bed hungry.

They see the faces of hunger while others just see statistics:

• One in four children in the state are living in poverty, amounting to more than 260,000 children in Maricopa Country alone.

• In Surprise, nearly 24 percent of households fall at or below the poverty level.

• Arizona ranks dead last in an America’s Health Ranking study with the greatest number of children in poverty.

The St. Mary’s Kids Cafe program is working toward changing those numbers by offering daily meals to impoverished children.

“Child hunger is getting worse,” said Laura Brill, the Kids Cafe manager, calling these statistics “disturbing and unacceptable.”

The program feeds about 1,700 school-age children at 32 different locations every day, but with a new building expansion, Brill hopes to expand that number to 3,000 over the summer and 4,000 by the end of the year.

The program will be moving next week to a renovated former storage space in the westside location of St. Mary’s, so volunteers and staff can pack, store and assemble the meals, which include sandwiches and fruit and vegetables, all in one place.

The volunteers appreciate the commitment to the westside location, said Jan Wells, who helps coordinate the volunteers.

“Everybody is very excited,” she said.

Wells hopes to expand the menu offered. Right now, volunteers make up ham sandwiches, beef and ranch wraps or other varieties of sandwiches.

“Our goal is to provide that nutritional meal,” she said.

Brill said children living in poverty don’t eat well because it’s usually the highly processed foods lacking in significant nutritional value that are the cheapest to buy and that leads not only to poorer general health, but fatigue, hospitalizations, behavioral difficulties and impaired performance in school.

Brill said the goal of the program, which exists on a combination of donations and government funding, is to give children consistent daily nutrition, and it’s about giving them both quantity and quality food.

“This is the future of Arizona, and we feel like we need to invest now,” Brill said.

It’s important to sustain that nutrition during the summer, and more difficult to do because the children aren’t in school, she said.

“We want to kind of keep them steady,” Brill said. “We want the kids to be ready for when school starts back up.”

The goal is to expand the Kids Cafe program to make 8,000 meals a day, but that’s a few years down the road, she said.

And for both the current and future expansion, the food bank needs new volunteers; both Brill and Wells emphasized their appreciation for the volunteers and the support of the Sun Cities and Surprise communities.

But it takes a lot of work, Brill said, stressing the need for volunteers looking for a more in-depth project who can adopt a Kids Cafe site to set up and track the program.

“We want to make sure we’re very mindful in our planning,” Brill said, explaining she doesn’t want to have to say to the children at the sites: “Sorry, we messed up, we’re not going to feed you anymore.”

If the program doesn’t get enough volunteers to visit sites, it can’t have as many locations and won’t be able to feed as many kids, Brill said.

The Kids Cafe program is also looking for potential new locations for the meal sites, which can be any place children have access to, from a church, playground or pool, or an apartment complex.

Volunteers interested in doing site visits can call Grace Rodil at 602-343-5629 or email her at

For volunteers looking to help prepare meals or do other work for St. Mary’s Westside location, call Jan Wells at 602-343-5637 or reach her by email at

Different sites looking to participate can call Melissa Jensen at 602-647-1820

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Filed under donations, Events, Food Banking, Volunteer, Westside

Volunteers needed!!

Tuesday, September 28th 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Join us for the first ever 50’s Rock ‘n’ Box.We’ll be groovin’ to the oldies while we pack emergency food boxes on the assembly line at St. Mary’s Food Bank…rockin’ for a good cause!

Oldie’s Trivia Contest

Bring your family and spend some quality time. (Kids need to be 12 or older). We’ll even serve dinner!

Make your Reservation Today! Call 602-343-3165
2831 N. 31st Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85009 Just South of Thomas Road

Let the good times roll!

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Donation Part of $4 Million National Gift to Feeding America Network in 2010; Kroger Campaign Has Now Donated $20 Million to Food Banks Since Inception

With summer still sizzling and the demand for emergency food still climbing in Arizona, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance will receive another boost from longtime Food Bank supporter Fry’s Food Stores with a $70,000 check to be presented August 12 by Fry’s Zone 1 Operations Supervisor and new St. Mary’s Board of Directors member Nicki Schillhahn-Amos.

The presentation to St. Mary’s is part of Fry’s and The Kroger Co. nationwide “Bring Hope to the Table®” campaign, which will donate $3 million in funds and $1 million in product to help those struggling with hunger in the communities where the company operates. All told, the program has directed $20 million in funds and food to local food banks as they struggle to meet the demand across the country.

This Fry’s donation will allow St. Mary’s to distribute enough food to provide nearly half a million meals (490,000) to clients and agency partners.

In addition, more than two million pounds of fruits, vegetables, breads, pastries and other food is donated by Fry’s annually through St. Mary’s food rescue program, providing food for the more than 500 member agencies at 700 locations around the state who rely on the food bank for their daily food resources. Fry’s also pledged $60,000 as part of St. Mary’s $10.7 million capital campaign and store employees regularly volunteer to help sort donated food and pack Emergency Food Boxes for distribution.

“We are so grateful to Fry’s Food Stores and Kroger for their continued and constant support of food banks and the battle against hunger in Arizona,” said Terry Shannon, President and CEO of St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance. “The combined donations of time, money and food prove Fry’s commitment to the community and how seriously they are to helping in the battle. We are energized by this latest donation and inspired by their example.”


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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.”

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Big car show and canned food drive

The Laguna Village Shopping Center (5865 West Ray Road – the Southeast corner of Ray and Kyrene Roads in Chandler) will play host to a big car show and canned food drive to benefit St. Mary’s Food Bank this Saturday, Nov. 14, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

All makes and models of cars and trucks are welcome. So it’s time to Rev up the Chevy! Gas up the Ford! Polish the Packard! Shine the Shelby! Load up the family and come on over to Laguna Village for a day of fun

This FREE event will include music and a raffle for some cool prices. But it’s really all about collecting canned food donations for St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, with 100 percent of the donations going directly toward easing the 50 percent increase in demand this holiday season.

For more information, contact, Dawn Sullivan at (480) 600-7601

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Filed under Events, Food Banking