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Phoenix food bank distributing historic amount of food during pandemic

(KTAR News Photo/Ali Vetnar)

PHOENIX – Since the start of the pandemic, St. Mary’s Food Bank has experienced an unprecedented demand for food to feed families across Arizona.

In its 50-year history, the food bank now reports a record amount of food distributed.

“We never distributed 10 million pounds of food a month until COVID hit,” Jerry Brown, director of public relations for St. Mary’s Food Bank, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

The Phoenix location is said to reach up to 1,000 families per day, with the location in Surprise estimated anywhere from 250-300 families. St. Mary’s works to provide each family with a week’s worth of food.

Located off the U.S. 60 at Bell Road, the food bank’s location in Surprise often serves an older demographic that is retired and lives off Social Security.

But with hardships brought on by the economic downfall and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus, the dynamic of many of the households has changed.

A woman named Yvonne stood in the wet cold weather Tuesday morning waiting for food.

“I have grandkids and kids that live with me and he’s lost his job, I don’t make enough money – I’m retired and I work part-time,” she said.

A similar story was told by Judy Sloan.

“I have three children at home with my daughter, my husband and me,” Sloan said. “Sometimes we can’t have money for groceries because I don’t get enough for Social Security, but St. Mary’s helps me out.”

Dedicated to end hunger, St. Mary’s exists to help feed hungry families throughout Phoenix and nine Arizona counties.

With additional dollars from the state, St. Mary’s Food Bank is now able to delivery groceries by refrigerated trucks. Before the new trucks became available, volunteers drove the food in their own personal cars.

Due to the at-risk population and threats seniors face by COVID-19, St. Mary’s has worked hard to increase its delivering capability.

“We had about 1,100 home bound seniors before COVID that we delivered to because we were aware of their situation, that number has swelled to about 4,000 now,” Brown said.

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