Carlos Valles Named as New Executive Director

The Sahuarita Food Bank & Community Resource Center is pleased to announce and introduce Carlos Valles as our new Executive Director as of January 2, 2019.

Carlos has a rich background, which includes owning his own auto-related business and three years’ experience in the U.S. Air Force, where he handled transportation logistics and coordination and served for seven years as a military contractor with transportation and program management responsibilities.

Carlos also is familiar with nonprofits, having worked at Beads of Courage in Tucson. There, he managed a number of volunteers. Carlos also is bilingual (English and Spanish), which will help us better communicate with some of our clients.

Carlos, his wife Vanessa and their 6-month old twins live in Sahuarita. Vanessa has worked for the Town of Sahuarita for 12 years.

While we introduce Carlos, we must also recognize the contributions of our outgoing Executive Director Ann Striker.  In the 14 months that Ann served as our Executive Director, she has raised the professionalism of our operations a great deal. Ann’s assuming of this leadership role allowed board members to be able to step back from the day-to-day operations, freeing us up to focus on governance matters.

The Board was able to work towards establishing the SFB as a nonprofit organization and our new relationship with The Good Shepherd Church, laying the groundwork for our Capital Campaign, and putting the Sustainable Families Coalition on firmer footing. We are profoundly thankful for all that Ann has done for us.

Highlights of Ann’s leadership include excellent management of our volunteer teams and the recruitment of at least 10 volunteers who have shouldered significant responsibility very quickly. Further, in working with Sue Novak, Ann has identified potential successors to key volunteer roles to ensure continuity of our operations.

Ann also established a new volunteer sign-up process to ensure adequate staffing on service days for the BackPack program, Wednesday produce distribution and pantry operations at Summit View Elementary School.

Finally, Ann has further strengthened an already strong relationship with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona during a time of considerable change in that organization. And our relationships with Green Valley and Amado food banks are now stronger than ever before.

Ann has graciously volunteered to work closely with Carlos to familiarize him with our organization and operations to ensure a smooth transition.

Ann will continue to be involved with the SFB-CRC, and will serve as a voting member on our Board of Directors. Thank you, Ann, and a warm welcome to Carlos! 

Sahuarita Provides Emergency Food Aid

The Town of Sahuarita announced on Jan. 22 that it was providing financial assistance to several nonprofit groups with the SFB-CRC and others with whom it has a contract to help local residents directly affected by the federal government shutdown.


“We know that some of our residents have been impacted by the shutdown,” Mayor Tom Murphy said. “It’s important to us to look for ways to assist them, knowing some are now looking at a month of work without pay.”


In order to assist town residents who are federal employees affected by the partial shutdown, Town Manager Kelly Udall approved $5,000 in additional funding for the SFB-CRC, as well as $5,000 each to Valley Assistance Services and the Community Food Bank of Green Valley.


“The Town of Sahuarita responded to the additional needs in the community incredibly quickly,” commented SFB-CRC President Penny Pestle. “For them to reach out to us with this assistance is really appreciated. The Town is a wonderful community partner.” 

Donations to the SFB Now Eligible for the AZ Tax Credit

Good news! As an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Sahuarita Food Bank & Community Resource Center also has been approved by the State of Arizona as a Qualifying Charitable Organization, making your donations to us eligible for the Arizona Tax Credit. 


Your donation to us will be matched dollar-for-dollar with a credit on your 2018 tax returns up to $800 for a married couple filing jointly or $400 for single heads of households and married couples filing separately. In 2018, the SFB-CRC was recognized as a 501(c)(3) independent of The Good Shepherd Church. 


You can support the food bank and take advantage of the Arizona Tax Credit until April 15, 2019 for the 2018 tax year. The code for the SFB-CRC on your Arizona tax form is 22050. Please make sure checks are made payable to  Sahuarita Food Bank. For additional information, please consult your tax advisor. 

A Personal and Up-Close Campaign

Everything we do to support our community is hands-on and personal. It’s who we are. So, it’s no surprise our Nourishing Our Community capital campaign is a personal campaign. 


It is too important – and too large – to do via the internet or by direct mail. Raising $2.2 million would be challenging for any nonprofit in Sahuarita. We believe engaging with donors on a personal level will create our success and our new food bank.


Our campaign committee members have committed themselves to spending time with community leaders and philanthropists to help them understand on a personal level how we are bursting at the seams and truly need to expand our food bank operations, diminish client wait times and grow our community resource programs. Committee members also use that time to educate the community on the food and social services holes in our area that we are filling for up to 200 households per week.


The more personal engagement we can make, the sooner we will hit our $2.2 million goal. To date, donors and supporters asked to invest in our vision and future have given more than $855,000, which is a testament to the success of our personal approach. If your contribution is part of that total, thank you so much! We know how to end hunger. Let’s do this, together. If you have not yet had a chance to meet with our campaign committee and make a commitment, please join us now by contacting Board President Penny Pestle at ppestle@cox.net.

Fresh and Free Produce Days

It’s the closest you can come to finding a weekly farmers’ market with great fresh food choices – but all for free and to everyone in the community.


Steve and Irene Little spearhead the Sahuarita Food Bank’s Wednesday Produce Program that provides free produce to anyone in the community who stops by from 2:30-4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays from early fall into the following summer. 


Through a small group of dedicated volunteers, folks are able to put fresh fruits and vegetables on family tables to promote healthy eating habits for anyone who makes the trip over to pick them up. 


Local residents can choose from fruits such as citrus, berries, apples and tomatoes as well as vegetables like lettuce, squash, beans, potatoes, corn and broccoli.


“I am quite impressed with our overall selection,” said SFB’s newly-appointed Executive Director Carlos Valles.


The fresh produce originates in Mexico. Produce distributors in Nogales and Rio Rico donate the food to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona if they determine it won’t arrive fresh if it’s trucked to its intended destination. Instead of dumping perfectly good food into a landfill, the distributors donate the food to the CFB, which then distributes it to area food banks like ours. 


As many as 50 people generally show up each Wednesday and often distribute some of the items to friends and neighbors. Valles estimates the food gets distributed to at least 200 people each week. Whatever is not taken is offered up the next day during Thursday Market Days.  


Volunteers gauge how much to give out, depending on how much is received.  Volunteers give out generous amounts for larger quantities but less for limited items so that everyone gets a little.  This year, there’s been less produce to give out due to two tropical storms late last summer that severely disrupted the growing season in Mexico. 


“Our free produce day also allows people the opportunity to try items that they might not normally purchase and eat,” Carlos said. The program often gets items many are unfamiliar with, so volunteers go out of their way to suggest preparation and serving ideas.  


“We recently had a large amount of acorn squash that we received,” Carlos recalled, “and many people had no clue how to prepare it. Our volunteers provided simple recipes they could try at home.”


By offering this fresh and free produce, we’re encouraging local families to make healthy, nutritious meals, while reducing their grocery bills and helping to keep food waste to a minimum.


As Carlos proudly put it, “We are able to secure quality produce that lands on a plate instead of a landfill.” 

Making Healthy Food Choices for Good Health in 2019

How many of your New Year’s resolutions have you kept? If one of them is to get fit and healthy, you’re among about 45 percent of Americans with the same goal. 


Unfortunately, it’s more difficult for families on a limited or lower-income budget to shop and eat healthy, according to numerous studies on diet and nutrition and socioeconomic class.  Healthier foods are typically pricier to buy than processed packaged foods, are less accessible and harder to keep fresh.


The SFB-CRC is committed to giving healthy food options to the people who come to us for food assistance. Just like a grocery store, we offer a wide range of foods from each food category on our Market Days (Thursdays 3-5 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m.-noon).


“We provide our clients items from the five major food groups,” SFB Executive Director Carlos Valles said, “fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy.” These food group are essential for everyone, from growing children to mature adults. 


Whether you’re mature adult couple on a fixed income or a young family on a limited budget with growing children to feed, here’s how each of these five food groups should become a part of your regular diet for optimum health.


Ultimately, however, it’s up to you to select the right fuel for your family. So skip over highly processed, high-fat and starchy, sugary treats and instead opt for some of these healthy foods every day: 


  • Fruits provide essential vitamins, such as Vitamin C, as well as fiber and natural sugars that support children’s energy and growing bones. Some fruit, especially blueberries, strawberries and pomegranate, contain antioxidants that protect your body against harmful free radicals,  from air pollution or radiation. Add more fruit to your diet by keeping it handy in the house and adding it to cereal, salads and smoothies. 
  • Vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients, but it’s the most neglected food in American diets.  Select the brightest-colored vegetables or deep leafy greens for the highest nutritional impact. Examples are beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach and peppers. To keep them from spoiling until you use them and to keep them as a ready-made ingredient, you can wash, cut and freeze some of these. Add them to sandwiches, soups, stews, rice dishes and casseroles or eat them raw with low-fat ranch dressing or peanut butter. 
  • Grains, such as oatmeal, seeds, quinoa, rice, barley, nuts and even popcorn, are good sources of complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber and make you feel fuller to help in weight management. Whole grains – not processed – also have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other health problems. Mix together grains with some dried fruit for a healthy snack on the go. 
  • Protein from meat, poultry, eggs, fish (including tuna) and beans is a building block bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. It helps the body produce adrenaline and energy. Our bodies need large amounts of protein to sustain them, according to WebMD.  Just be sure you select lean protein without a lot of fat. Instead of deep frying, grill or broil meat and poultry with some seasoning. 
  • Dairy provides more calcium for strong teeth and bones than any other food. Calcium and Vitamin D are essential to helping prevent osteoporosis in older women. Fat free cottage cheese, low-fat yogurt and skim milk are all good sources of protein but without the extra fat.  


Here are a few ideas for meals that use foods from these food groups and are offered on our Market Days and at any grocery store:


  • Breakfast—Oatmeal or yogurt with sliced fruit, whole grain toast with peanut butter and fruit juice 
  • Lunch—Smoothie with banana, apples, spinach and kale with some yogurt, milk, water and ice, or a tuna sandwich with tomato and lettuce on whole wheat bread and a fruit for dessert. 
  • Afternoon snack—3 oz. of cheese with carrot and celery sticks or apple and pear slices that can be dipped in peanut butter
  • Dinner—Grill or broil lean meat and serve with baked potatoes or rice, beans and steamed veggies. Other options include tortilla wraps with chicken, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and a sprinkling of cheese or spaghetti with meat sauce and a side of broccoli. 

Free Tax Prep Services Offered

You have probably noticed that in the last few months, the Sahuarita Food Bank has added Community Resource Center to our name. That’s because we are offering several programs and services to support our clients and residents.  One of these is free tax preparation services that will be offered Feb. 7-April 11. 


Through our partnership with the Pio Decimo Center, an outreach of Catholic Community Services, the SFB will offer tax preparation services at no cost from noon to 4 p.m. every Thursday beginning Feb. 7 until April 11. Up to four highly-trained volunteers will take appointments and walk-ins from those who need help with their taxes.


This is a real benefit as the service is free and can save you $250 or more from not having to use a commercial tax preparation service. Also, because of their specialized training, these volunteers ensure that those they are helping receive every credit for which they’re eligible. 

One credit—the earned income tax credit—is intended to assist the working poor to minimize their tax liability. In fact, the earned income tax credit is the most effective way of lifting children out of poverty! This ties in so well with the mission of our Community Resource Center, which is to provide ways for those with limited means to become more economically stable and self-sufficient. 

Meet Volunteer Coordinator Kay Novak

Kay Novak started volunteering with us about six years ago and has served as our Volunteer Coordinator for four years. Volunteering with the SFB was a good fit for Kay as she was also volunteering in several capacities with The Good Shepherd Church. 


Kay’s responsibilities include recruiting, evaluating and orienting new volunteers and completing the computer work that goes along with it. She finds many of her volunteers through the Green Valley-Sahuarita Volunteer Clearinghouse. But she’s discovered that word of mouth and having other volunteers spread the word about their volunteer work is more successful. 


What does Kay look for in a volunteer? “I stress that we are non-judgmental. We don’t know our clients’ stories. It’s critical that we give them a big smile and an extravagant welcome. Our goal is to make them feel welcome and comfortable.” 


“Volunteers need to understand that, overall, new clients have a very difficult time. People are very proud. It’s hard for them to admit that they need help. They are relieved when they realize that the volunteers really do care about their welfare.” 


Volunteers get to know most of their clients personally. “You really become emotionally connected,” she adds.


Kay spends about five hours at the facility on Thursdays but also averages a good five hours at home, mostly on the computer, responding to volunteers and making contacts.


Kay and her husband have wintered in the Green Valley RV Resort since 2004, and became permanent residents in 2011. They are originally from Ashtabula, Ohio. 

Safeway Turkey Bucks Promo Raises $10,000 in Food

The Turkey Bucks promotion at the Duval Mine Rd. Safeway store during the holidays generated about $10,000 in contributions from store customers, which will be donated to us in the form of nonperishable food.


The SFB will receive that amount of dry, canned, boxed and other nonperishable goods from the store to help restock our food pantry. 


Each holiday season, Safeway store managers get to select a local agency recipient for the corporation’s annual holiday Turkey Bucks and Santa Bucks promotions. Customers could buy $1, $5 or $10 Turkey Bucks at the register, which were added to their bill. 


On behalf of the people we serve, the SFB extends our thanks and gratitude to all of the Safeway employees, Store Manager Aldin Puljarja and, most of all, Safeway customers who purchased Turkey Bucks. Thanks also to Sue Eaton, our volunteer operations coordinator, for working with Safeway on this promotion.  

Your Team is Invited to Join Our Team

Your civic or service organization, scout troop, company, sports team, family or faith-based group is invited to join us for some team-building and community service as a volunteer for the Sahuarita Food Bank. 


We'll work together to pack food boxes, restock our pantry, distribute food and collect food at our various food drives. Your volunteer work with us will strengthen your relationship with your team members, and you’ll be giving back to the community in a meaningful way to help your neighbors in need. 


Please contact our Executive Director Carlos Valles at (520) 668-0547 or cvalles@sfb-crc.org.


You may also contact Volunteer Coordinator Kay Novak at jknovak62@gmail.com to schedule an orientation for your group and a volunteer day. 


Of course, your group or individuals are always welcome to volunteer with us regularly. We’d love for your team to join our team to help end hunger in Southern Arizona.