St. Mary’s Food Bank helps out record number of families in August
PHOENIX – St. Mary’s Food Bank is looking for more volunteers as a record-setting month of service comes to a close.
As National Food Bank Day approaches Friday, the Phoenix-based nonprofit said it was on course to serve 150,000 families in August, the most for a single month in its 55 years.
“The line’s around the building,” spokesman Jerry Brown said Tuesday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.
He said about 100 cars can line up in the Phoenix lot at 31st Avenue and Thomas Road at the same time before the spillover reaches the street.
The nonprofit also operates a distribution site in Surprise close to Bell and Dysart roads.
Brown said 7 million-8 million pounds of food are stored in their warehouse a month.
That requires a lot of hands to pack the food boxes going out to families, at a time of year when the food bank loses a lot of volunteers.
“The college and high school kids that have spent the summer with us packing those boxes and getting the service hours they need for school, they’ve gone back to school now,” Brown said.
“There’s no way we can do what we do without these volunteers when you’re talking about packing in excess of 50,000 of these emergency food boxes that go out to clients. We need as many hands as we can get.”
Volunteer shifts are scheduled at 9 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. Saturday shifts run at 8 a.m. and noon.
“We pump up the music, we try to make it as fun as possible.”
Shifts last about 90 minutes, sometimes two hours, Brown said.
In a single shift, volunteers can build thousands of boxes, Brown said.
“It’s great to have a sense of accomplishment – you can actually see the pallet ot boxes that you built as you walk out at the end of the shift.
“Pallet after pallet after pallet of food. And we need to go at that pace [to meet demand],” Brown said.
Volunteers can sign up St. Mary’s website by themselves or as a group.
“We need groups of three … we need groups of five. If you have 50-100, we can accommodate you,” Brown said.
National Food Bank Day, which St. Mary’s inaugurated on the first Saturday of September in 2017, kicks off Hunger Action Month.