10 Things to Know About Our Amazing Community Food Bank

Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona is the #1 food bank in the nation. Ready to find out more?

By thinking “Beyond the Box,” Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona is working to solve hunger in our community through many programs. CFBSA is “distributing nutritious food — including lots of fresh produce — to struggling communities and supporting people in need to build skills and pursue opportunities that create financial stability and self-sufficiency,” according to Feeding America.

Our CFBSA does so much for the people of our region that in 2018 it was named Feeding America’s Food Bank of the Year. Its programs and partnerships provide food for the hungry, but its help extends far beyond the much-needed daily fix.

In addition to providing healthy food for hungry people in Southern Arizona’s five counties, the organization runs myriad assistance and outreach programs. This is vital because the poverty rate is over 20% in the areas they serve.

Here are 10 things you might not know about the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona:

1. The CFBSA fed over 56,000 hungry children last year. They fed over 186,000 people in Southern Arizona in 2018 alone. Yowsa!

2. CFBSA throws away food that is past its expiration date.

If you’re thinking about emptying your pantry to donate to CFBSA, that’s awesome, but
make sure to check the expiration date before you hand over the goods.

Also, CFBSA focuses on healthier food options including low-sodium and fresh alternatives, so keep that in mind.
Poverty is directly linked to serious diet-related illnesses. Curate before you donate!

3. In addition to culinary job training and job placement for the unemployed, CFBSA program Caridad Community Kitchen provides meals for the hungry and the homeless while training their program participants. A full circle program, wow!

(Photo courtesy of Caridad Kitchen on Facebook)

(Photo courtesy of Caridad Kitchen on Facebook)

4. The group helps low-income people start health and wellness businesses through their micro-loan partnership with Community Investment Corporation.

So CFBSA is finding solutions for the poverty epidemic, which goes hand-in-hand with food insecurity!

5. The CFBSA currently supplies food to 15 pantries in low income-area schools.

They are looking to double that by 2021.

6. They promote food justice by supporting community gardens and gardeners too — with education, materials, and plots of land.

7. CFBSA helps local growers distribute their produce to local institutions including the University of Arizona student union, the Tucson Unified School District cafeterias, and Tucson Medical Center kitchens.

If Southern Arizonans shifted just $5 of their existing spending toward local food, it would
generate an additional $287-million a year in income to local farms and small growers.

Need a way to support our community’s farmers and economy? Buy local — it matters (and it tastes better).

8. Michael McDonald, CEO of CFBSA, not only has mad-chops in the Non-Profit sector (he previously lead some of Tucson’s most impactful organizations including Habitat for Humanity and Native Seeds) but he is Tucson born and bred.

McDonald was chosen, after an intensive nationwide CEO search, as CFBSA’s leader. Way to go, local boy!

9. Last year, our Community Food Bank shipped rescued produce to 23 other states in need.

CFBSA realizes that a big problem in the hunger puzzle is shipping. Facepalm!

Per the CFBSA, “Each year, over 5.9 billion pounds of fresh produce come through the port of entry in Nogales, Arizona, on the border of Mexico. Much of this ends up in landfills. CFBSA’s Produce Rescue team works to save fresh fruits and vegetables from landfills and distribute them to those in need.”

10. According to the organization’s Public Relations and Marketing Specialist Norma Cable, the food bank sponsored a bill to make SNAP go twice as far.

“The bill appropriates $400,000 of the State general fund in fiscal year 2018-2019 to be used for a produce incentive program (like Double Up Food Bucks Arizona) for SNAP participants so they can purchase Arizona-grown produce items at participating farmers markets, farm stands, community support agriculture (CSA) sites, and grocery stores,” said Cable.

Upcoming events and drives:

Got overdue library books? Starting April 15 and continuing through the end of the month, Pima County Library will waive $1 worth of fines per each nonperishable food item you bring in to any location.

2. April 21 is the annual food drive.

Want to go to the Pima County Fair?  Bring three nonperishable food items to the Community Food Bank between 10 a.m. and noon and get free admission to the fair.

3. The group is sponsoring an art show this May. The exhibit, called “Need2Nourish,” will spark dialogue about what hunger and nourishment are.

It will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 4 at Steinfeld Warehouse Commissions Art Center at 101 West Sixth St. Half the proceeds will go to the Food Bank and the other half to local artists.

You can make a difference!

The food bank is always seeking volunteers, donations, and people to initiate food drives.

Individuals, families, groups, and organizations can assist in many ways. Click here for opportunities to serve your neighbors.

For more information, visit communityfoodbank.org.

[Both Angela Orlando and Jennifer Teufel Schoenberger contributed to this article.]

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