“Summer is a challenge for us,” acknowledged SFB-CRC board vice-president and grants officer Curt Keim. “Food contributions are down, as many regular donors have gone north for the summer, children are home from school and eat at home more, and we have to purchase protein-rich foods.”
It’s just another reason why grants are of great importance. They complement SFB-CRC’s greatest source of funding—individual contributions, he said.
SFB-CRC is not part of the Community Food Bank (CFB), Curt acknowledged, although they provide consistently appreciated support. The Green Valley and Amado food banks are branches of CFB, and their staff, rent, and other expenses are supported by CFB, so SFB-CRC has to rely on grants and donors.
“We cooperate closely, but we are independent and raise our own funds,” Curt said.
SFB-CRC still does contract with CFB for TANF food, as well as receiving produce, meat, bread, and dry goods weekly. And, May 29 is set for an award ceremony, he added, for the most recent grant of $2,950 from Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona that will help SFB-CRC purchase eight coolers for frozen foods and new tables and shopping carts that are either worn out or second hand.
Curt stated in the grant proposal that the money will allow SFB-CRC to provide more of a variety of food choices to clients and do it more efficiently.
“Our clients always provide positive feedback when we can offer a larger variety of food in an efficient manner,” he wrote. “This becomes a challenge when we are limited by our current fixed assets.”
As one of the largest of the hundreds of agencies across Southern Arizona, SFB-CRC received $2500 and $3500 in individual emergency food grants in 2015 and 2016, and was awarded $5000 in 2018 for backpacks, from the Arizona Cardinals Charities.
“We requested funding for 25 weekend nutrition backpacks for elementary school children during the 2018-2019 school year,” Curt explained.
Grants are an essential part of continued funding needs for SFB-CRC.
“Keep ‘em coming,” he declared.
“I guess it’s pretty close to homesteading,” he said.
It would be tough to have to live like your great granddaddy, but you can tell Brian Jenkins embraces every minute of it. He moved his family from Denver a couple of years ago and built his own little ranch—to him a small slice of ultimate freedom in the desert where he’s a stay at home dad home schooling his two kids, and constantly figuring out new ways to be self-sustaining.
“I have the time,” he said, “but not the money.”
Yet, the SFB-CRC client and his family are happy as any millionaires, maybe happier—up each day to the sound of 50 hungry chickens, three goats, and a couple of cats. Then it’s another project that puts his construction and maintenance skills, along with his artistic creativity, to a new daily test.
He fashions ingenious practical items for his place from discarded wood and chunks of scrap metal. He beams when he points to his kitchen counter tops, or rustic wood ceilings, or the sliding compartments for the chickens’ eggs. He builds toys, even a homemade trampoline, for the kids.
“I haven’t bought chicken feed in months,” he proudly declared, explaining how he worked out a win-win situation with volunteer Tom Lindmeier one day. He would reuse food and materials waste, and save SFB the hassle and cost of disposal.
“After each market day, we call Brian if we have any produce waste,” SFB-CRC Executive Director Carlos Valles explained. “This is produce that has spoiled, which we will never give to our clients. He provides this food to his chickens and also shares the excess with neighbors who also have farm animals.”
It’s more savings to the food bank than one might think, plus Brian uses what he can to make compost for plants, though he preserves or processes the bulk of it for feed for his and his neighbors’ animals.
“We would be dumping the waste in the trash or taking it to the landfill,” Carlos acknowledged. “We eliminate costly trips to the landfill, and the discarded food is fed to animals that then provide eggs, milk, cheese, etc.”
“It’s also interesting to note that Brian eliminated the plastic bags that we were using to throw away discarded waste,” Carlos added. “He provided us with food safe containers that we fill and he transports them to his ranch. He also collects any plastic containers, such as for strawberries, which he returns so we can properly recycle.”
“We could really use donations of plastic buckets and containers with lids, number 3-10 gallons,” Brian pointed out.
Brian keeps a close eye on trash all over the county. Anything saleable or buildable, he wants it, he says, and will reuse it or recycle it. He burns rather than dumps, and his creative flair shows up in virtually every item he converts to something useful. The kids learn valuable lessons about self-reliance, how hard work can pay off, and they have fun while they help.
“It is incredible that we have formed this relationship with Brian,” Carlos said. “This is a win-win for both parties.”
SFB collected 1348 pounds of canned food, cereal, pasta and sauce, along with $700 in cash contributions at the March 30 annual Fiesta Sahuarita at Anamax Park, hosted by the Town of Sahuarita. This will provide a huge boost over the summer, when food donations take a dip.
The Fiesta Sahuarita featured music, games, health screenings, and information for residents about local services, along with food and information booths, and a water park for kids. The Town invited the SFB-CRC to staff the water park to collect the entrance fee, either a buck or a can of food for each child.
Community Events chair Michele Estavillo and her family worked three shifts, joined by volunteers from the Sahuarita Dance Center and Lorraine Kyees. Loyal volunteer Rick Marksberry and Executive Director Carlos Valles also worked tirelessly on set up and transportation.
These contributions will allow SFB to buy items when they run out of protein-rich foods, such as peanut butter, canned meat, and beans, and ensures that each family will get a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs on each of their two monthly visits.
Through the Nourishing Our Community capital campaign, the Sahuarita Food Bank and Community Resource Center looks to quickly raise $2.2 million and begin construction of a new expanded and efficient facility right next to our current location.
To meet the growing needs of our community, we are currently engaging with community leaders, philanthropists and foundations to seek multi-year gifts and pledges to solidify the project. By meeting face-to-face with these leaders we are able to explain the needs and benefits of our project and ask them to seriously consider supporting the campaign to the very best of their ability.
Due to this proven process, we are more than half-way to our goal, raising more than $1.1 million in less than eight months, a truly generous response.
If you would like to learn more about the campaign and how you can make a difference with a multi-year pledge, contact Penny Pestle at email@example.com.
People often think of the summer as a quieter time in Green Valley and Sahuarita. For the Sahuarita Food Bank and Community Resource Center (SFB/CRC), that is anything but true. The food bank serves lots of families with hungry children who come to take advantage of our generous and nutritious food, so we’re busy.
Students at local schools in the Sahuarita Unified School District and the Continental Elementary School District are out of school from late May to early August. Those who participate in the federal breakfast and lunch program, based on family income, do not get these meals during the summer. Also at the SFB, the weekend nutrition BackPack program doesn’t function for kids during the summer, as the schools are the distribution point and are closed.
The food bank’s “labor pool” is reduced by about half, since many of the volunteers are part-time residents and spend their summers in the cooler northern states. Even year-around residents take time away to visit family and travel during part of the summer.
You are greatly needed and will be so appreciated when you join our dedicated team of volunteers. Applications are available online at http://www.sahuaritafoodbank.org. You also can stop in during Thursday afternoon or Saturday morning food distribution at the food bank (17750 S. La Cañada) to fill out an application. Once you complete an application, you will be scheduled for an orientation.
We need volunteers, both in the summer and year round, in the following areas:
Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community, to make new friends, and to know that you can make a difference in people’s lives.
Joseph Bailey has found a way to keep busy and pay it forward.
As an SFB-CRC client, any amounts of food he feels are more than he needs, he borrows the kitchen at his church in Tucson and utilizes the extras to cook meals for the homeless, driving around the city, rounding them up and bringing them to the church for the feast.
A Navy veteran seriously injured in a service accident, he spends much of his time helping and encouraging other disabled vets in a variety of programs.
Shelter and food are two of the most important essentials of human survival, and even though Joseph, like many in our local communities, may face struggles with his daily existence, he is still able to give of himself to others.
He received a Habitat for Humanity house recently through their build a home for vets program and has logged in hundreds of hours himself, generally three days a week, helping H for H build homes for others.
“If you don’t serve mankind, then what are you doing in this world?” Joseph was quoted in an article put out by Tucson Habitat for Humanity.
He was also mentioned in a 2014 Cronkite News article that featured his equine therapy as an injured veteran through a Tucson program called Heroes on Horses. Joseph continues to aid other vets in this program.
“Joseph said the reason he comes to SFB is because they treat people wonderful,” said SFB-CRC Executive Director Carlos Valles.
“He is very humble,” Carlos added, “and he said that he wants to help people because so many people have helped him in his life.”