Phoenix food bank struggling with volunteer, food shortages

Mar 19, 2020, 4:15 AM
(Twitter Photo/St. Mary's Food Bank)...
(Twitter Photo/St. Mary's Food Bank)
(Twitter Photo/St. Mary's Food Bank)

PHOENIX – The ripple effects of the coronavirus pandemic are not only hitting restaurants and bars, but food banks as well.

Inventory is down at St. Mary’s Food Bank because of increased demand and so is the number of volunteers at the Phoenix facility as attempts to contain the virus become more stringent.

Tuesday, about 1,000 clients went to the food box distribution center at 31st Avenue and Thomas Road. That was nearly double from the previous day.

“We make 43,000 emergency boxes a month,” spokesman Jerry Brown told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday.

“We expect that number to jump now with folks out of work and on furlough… and the grocery store situation,” he said, referring to store shelves emptied by hoarding shoppers.

Arizona has 27 cases as of Wednesday morning, the state Department of Health said.

COVID-19 has changed the way the food bank operates internally.

“We’ve seen about a 70% drop,” in volunteers, Brown said.

Federal guidelines require people to avoid the kind of close interaction typical in food packaging and distribution.

“Normally we see about 200 volunteers a day at the food bank. Now it’s around 50,” Brown said.

That leaves staff of about 170 to take on some of the jobs the volunteers had been doing, including putting together food boxes, sorting food, helping clients at the distribution center.

“We totally understand [the drop in volunteers],” he said.

But the domino effect still makes things difficult.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gabriel Gamino and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Arizona News

(Bell Bank Park Rendering)...
Kevin Stone

Bell Bank gets naming rights to massive Mesa sports complex

The massive sports and entertainment complex opening next year in southeast Mesa will be known as Bell Bank Park under a 10-year naming rights deal announced Tuesday.
11 hours ago
(Twitter Photo/Phoenix Fire Department)...
Ali Vetnar

Phoenix mountain rescues decrease during pilot program to close trails in extreme heat

A city of Phoenix pilot program to close popular hiking trails during some of the hottest summer days has resulted in fewer mountain rescues for first responders, according to new data.
11 hours ago
Aloys Ntirushwamaboko (Photo via Phoenix Police Department)...

Silver Alert canceled after body identified as missing 103-year-old Phoenix man

A Silver Alert for a 103-year-old Phoenix man who had been missing for nearly a month was canceled Tuesday after formal identification of his body, authorities said.
11 hours ago
A vial of Covishield, an Indian made vaccine for COVID-19, lies at a vaccination center set up at a...

Arizona reports 1,934 new COVID-19 cases, 71 more deaths Tuesday

Arizona health officials on Tuesday reported 1,934 new COVID-19 cases and 71 additional deaths from the disease.
11 hours ago
(Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)...
Griselda Zetino

Carmona ‘cautiously optimistic’ about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for younger kids

Arizona’s top pandemic adviser feels “cautiously optimistic” about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for younger kids and believes it could help cut down the transmission of the virus.
11 hours ago
(Cigna Medical Group photo)...

Cigna Medical Group opens new health care center at SkySong in Scottsdale

Cigna Medical Group has opened the doors of a new health care center at SkySong in Scottsdale, allowing patients to access multiple services in one place.
11 hours ago
Phoenix food bank struggling with volunteer, food shortages