In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on families of Sahuarita, the impact of and need for the Sahuarita Food Bank is critical now more than ever. The conditions that have resulted for many have reinforced the need for the organization’s important services, as well as the need for the new building currently being planned.
According to board president, Penny Pestle, COVID-19 has created a new need for food within the organization’s service area. Since early March, Sahuarita Food Bank has served nearly double the number of households compared to last year, and registrations for new food bank clients are two to three times what they were previously.
To be able to continue providing the assistance it does, while also protecting the health and safety of their team and the families they serve, the Sahuarita Food Bank has shifted their service to a drive-through model, (complete with remote intercom), thereby eliminating close contact. In addition to serving families, the Sahuarita Food Bank is also working to continue providing weekend nutrition for SUSD students who receive it during the school year.
The good work on the Sahuarita Food Bank would not be possible without its volunteers and community support. Pestle commented: “In these early weeks of the virus, we have received so much valued assistance—in the form of rescued food from grocery stores, individual donations of food and dollars, and even the donation of a forklift as we need to move more food to feed more people.”
She went on to share that while the COVID-19 pandemic has limited their group of volunteers (many of whom are unable to continue helping at this time because of their vulnerability), ten National Guard members have been helping each distribution day.
The Sahuarita Food Bank & Community Resource Center will break ground on its new facility in September of this year, just south of its current location at The Good Shepherd. The virus has highlighted the need for more space to store, process and distribute food to more people. In addition, the resource center will provide much needed local programming for families and for workers who want to learn new skills to enhance employment opportunities. “Donations for the Nourishing Our Community Capital Campaign would be incredibly valuable so that we can realize our vision for the community: Food and economic security for all!”
Pestle added, “We believe that this increased need for food will continue for months, as people struggle to reengage into the workforce, so we urge continued community support.”
Donations of purchased food to the Sahuarita Food Bank can be made at its existing facility, at 17750 S. La Cañada Drive in Sahuarita.
More information about how to donate or how to become a volunteer can be found at sahuaritafoodbank.org.