The pandemic has turned American life upside down. SFB-CRC’s board, staff, and volunteers have never been busier, as we remain vigilant and dedicated to making the necessary changes in virtually every aspect of the operation.
SFB-CRC’s services are vital to the community. More than ever, our commitment to our neighbors means that fewer people have to choose between buying groceries and paying bills. We certainly aren’t doing this alone. We are forever grateful for our food partners and volunteers who keep our neighbors fed. Unfortunately, we believe the effects of COVID-19 will last through this year and perhaps into the next. Regardless of what the future holds, one way or the other SFB-CRC will always be there for anyone who needs a hand.
Whether it’s giving some of your time or your financial support, SFB-CRC needs you more than ever. The COVID-19 crisis has forced us to adjust, but of course we will never give up on the people in our community who need us. You can be a part of our continuing battle to feed and lift up through job training your neighbors who can really use assistance.
If you can find the time, SFB-CRC needs van and truck drivers. CDC protocols are followed, so if you can lift up to 40 pounds and have a clean standard driver’s license, you can help right away.
If you love to organize, take notes, and can follow up on details, SFB-CRC could use a project assistant who can work remotely for the time being.
The pandemic has also highlighted the increased need for more food, as well as new space and education and training programs that our new building can provide, so you can give directly to our operations, or to the Nourishing our Community Capital Campaign.
You can still donate non-perishable foods at a bin in front of The Good Shepherd Church at 17750 S. La Canada, or if you want us to pick up, just call 520-668-0547. If you have citrus to donate, please come on Thursdays, 8 to 1, or Saturdays 8 to noon so that we can help you, or call for a pickup at 520-668-0547. You can send a donation by check to Sahuarita Food Bank at 17750 S. La Canada, Sahuarita 85629 or visit our website at sahuaritafoodbank.org to see how you can help.
SFB-CRC board, staff, and volunteers cannot possibly thank you enough for your generosity in helping us help others who need us now more than they ever have.
The pandemic’s catastrophic effects on the capability of many more of our neighbors to put food on the table have clearly illustrated the importance of the new building.
The number of visitors to the food bank has doubled. 200 families are served on one Thursday. Much more food is required to meet that kind of increase and it has to be stored. Volunteers handle 9,000 pounds of food in one day. Supplying a church in Amado required an additional 3500 pounds. Lack of space leads to a great deal of double-handling of food.
The crisis has also illuminated the need for space in order to conduct SFB-CRC’s planned workforce development and other education and training programs to fill entry-level health care positions. Programs like these can break the cycle of poverty for our neighbors, giving them opportunities they deserve. Certified care givers for assisted living facilities and certified nurse assistants (CNAs) for hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities are in demand across the country, especially when staff is ill or there are simply not enough staff to care for those who have become ill.
The new building will be a welcome addition and an essential part of the resources that SFB-CRC provides for our community. SFB-CRC’s Capital Campaign is currently at 1.5 million toward that 2.2-million-dollar amount that will hopefully soon make it a reality. While we have slowed our fundraising efforts by refocusing from the Nourishing Our Community campaign to feeding our neighbors, we are absolutely committed to meeting our $2.2 million goal. We are incredibly grateful to the individuals, corporations and foundations that have contributed thus far. If you would like more information about how you can help fund the new building, please contact Penny Pestle at email@example.com.
The things that inspired us yesterday continue to inspire us today. Many thanks for your continued support!
There are always people who step forward to shine beacons of light on the darkest days. These fantastic four folks found ways to provide SFB-CRC with incredible help when it was needed most.
Bette Mulley and another anonymous volunteer raised more than $4,500 on their own. Bette set up a GoFundMe account through NextDoor, Twitter, and Facebook, something she’s talked about doing for years. The anonymous volunteer wrote personal letters to hundreds of local residents that brought in more than $3,000 so far.
Dorothy Lehmkuhl reached out to SFB-CRC after reading an article in KGVY 1060 Quarterly. She recommended we contact her son’s company, Lineage Logistics. They have partnered with sports teams to provide help to our country’s food banks, and after our newest volunteer Diane Diamond emailed them, this international company responded through a short phone call with a $25,000 donation for our new building.
SFB-CRC’s fourth hero refused to lend us a forklift. Thayne Hardy, General Manager of Amphenol-Optimize with plants in Nogales, Sonora and Nogales, Arizona, listened to our story of how difficult it is to consistently handle multiple heavy pallets of stored shrink-wrapped food products with a manual pallet jack and decided he would not accept our request to borrow one. He announced instead that he would just hand over a beautiful heavy-duty unit on behalf of his company.
“I still can’t get over that a forklift was donated to the food bank,” exclaimed SFB-CRC Executive Director Carlos Valles. “We moved six pallets last Thursday to the parking lot that would have been very difficult with a pallet jack. We are trying to come up with a name for it, and the winner will get their picture sitting on it.”
SFB-CRC’s superstar supporters come in all sizes. These fantastic four and their contributions when they were really needed will not be forgotten.
“Every time I walk into the Redman Room, I can’t help but turn and smile at them,” beamed SFB-CRC President Penny Pestle.
Jerry Cuffe, Sam Hill, and Bob Lane are rock solid reasons why the food distribution system can’t get along without enthusiastic and faithful volunteers. Cooperative zeal seems to characterize these three, who work seamlessly and quickly to ensure each family gets the appropriate food allotment. Carlos, our ED, had envisioned their three positions when he started planning in February for the transition to a curbside delivery model because of the pandemic, but he never could have predicted they would operate so efficiently together.
“It is impressive how quickly they dispatch orders out to cars. They keep shopping carts flowing without delay.”
Bob is an intake specialist who mans the white board, a fast-paced duty that requires gathering client information such as family size, first or second visit, CSFP, diapers, and vehicle number from client registration, and then making certain the correct orders are relayed to the rest of the staff working in the Redman Room.
Jerry is the quality control guy, ensuring each shopping cart is properly prepped. It requires quick thinking, attention to a lot of details, and multi-tasking to make sure everyone is getting the correct food order.
Sam monitors TEFAP and CSFP, so he’s constantly moving to keep the appropriate number of items in each cart, as well as collecting data each market day that provides essential food ordering information for the following week.
“We are so grateful and honored,” board president Penny Pestle said, “to have Jerry, Bob, and Sam as a core part of our team. They just make it happen!”
The pandemic has created unprecedented difficulties for the needy in our community, many who were struggling prior to its effect on our society’s economic well-being.
SFB-CRC will need an additional $100,000 just to meet increased demand through September with already a doubling of the number of families/households being served in just the first few weeks of the crisis, plus an additional $75,000 for a new children’s nutrition program. Yet, the organization is answering the challenge with gratitude for support from a variety of sources.
“The response of our community and funders/partners has been remarkable,” declared SFB-CRC Board VP and Grant Master Curt Keim.
Tom Wilsted, a community member encouraging those perhaps facing less adversity to donate stimulus money if they can, initiated an impact fund through the Greater Green Valley Community Foundation, and that organization awarded a grant to the SFB-CRC. Pima County diverted $315,000 from Federal Community Development Block Grant money to support many local food banks that serve rural areas, including $50,000 for SFB. Amphenol-Optimize in Ambos Nogales donated a gently used Toyota forklift, and Lineage Logistics provided funds toward the building.
United Way and the Town of Sahuarita also donated unsolicited funds to meet the increasing demand, Keim said.
“This is truly reflective of the generosity of area donors and neighbors.”
Irene and Steve Little are among the dedicated SFB-CRC volunteers who work year-round regardless of weather extremes to provide much needed nutrition to those in need in our community. They are a reliable and welcoming presence for those who come for produce that SFB-CRC receives during the Mexican growing season.
The retired professional astronomers and college professors have helped feed 23,000 people from 8,200 families once a week over the last three years, a program now on hold due to the COVID 19 crisis. The couple found a welcoming church community at The Good Shepherd, where later this summer Irene will become their Moderator. She is also the liaison from the Church to the food bank to ensure that the two independent but closely connected organizations work together smoothly.
District 2 Supervisor Ramón Valadez presented Pima County’s Community Leadership Award to SFB-CRC Saturday, March 7, at Kino Community Center.
Pima County Program Manager for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Linda Leatherman nominated SFB-CRC for the annual honor.
“We are tremendously indebted to you for your tireless effort in strengthening the quality of life throughout our community,” the award states. “With sincere thanks for your determination, action, and tireless work in making your neighborhood and Pima County a better place to live and raise a family.”
Key volunteers Sue Eaton, Walt Burzycki, Sam McElwaine and Dulce Molina, along with staff members Carlos Valles and April Escarcega, and board members Curt Keim and Penny Pestle were on hand to receive the award. Supervisor Valadez voiced how impressed he was with the 200 plus volunteers at SFB-CRC who do the work of 11 full-time paid employees (22,000 hours a year).
“I am so proud that the work of our volunteers, very small staff, and funders has been recognized by Supervisor Valadez,” declared Executive Director Valles. “It is a real honor to work with so many people who are dedicated to providing sustainable food and economic security for all.”
“One of my most favorite programs at the SFB-CRC,” offered Executive Director Carlos Valles. “We are able to provide a sack of nutritious meals and snacks to kids for the weekend so they are ready to learn on Monday.”
The BackPacks program is designed to help those kids who really need to get nutritious food on the weekends without identifying them, but SFB-CRC Board VP Curt Keim agrees that’s somewhat difficult. “In practice it is impossible to keep confidentiality, both because of the enthusiasm of the children and the size of the pack.”
“They can hardly wait till Friday,” said one local teacher who witnesses each week the joy and gratitude from the kids and their families who desperately need it. The teacher said that one mother of five calls in almost daily for support and with thanks. “Without it she wouldn’t know what to do since the nearest food bank is far away.”
Another added, “I have noticed that the children who do get it (BackPacks) do not complain about being hungry as much as the other children do. I thank you for the program and the help it gives my children who need it.”
SFB-CRC purchases the food in bulk and about 20 volunteers put packs together and deliver them to the schools every week, rotating weekly menus. Each BackPack contains nutritious, kid-friendly food for two breakfasts, two main meals, and snacks such as shelf-stable milk, juice, cereal, canned meat, peanut butter, a sweet potato, and fruit. School personnel identify the nutritionally at-risk children.
SFB-CRC has doubled target schools from four to eight in the last two years, and Carlos indicated that the numbers do vary from week to week, with a maximum so far of 471 being served. Need is estimated by the percentage of children on the Federal Free and Reduced-Price Meals program. Families with incomes up to 130% of the poverty level qualify for free school meals, and up to 185% for reduced-price meals, which is also the benchmark for eligibility for food banks. Each school reports to the USDA every semester the number of students who sign up, and the numbers, sadly, are pretty significant, Curt said, most from 35 to 50 percent, some over 70 percent.
There is no way to accurately chart the impact this program has on learning, he added, but school staff have consistently affirmed that families in the program have a greater sense of well-being, and children arrive on Monday morning more prepared for school.
SFB-CRC has been able to fund the program and its expansion mostly through Community Service Block Grants from Pima County, contracts with the Town of Sahuarita, and grants from La Posada Foundation, Arizona Diamondbacks, Wells Fargo, Sundt Foundation, Cardinals Charities, The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ Women’s Fellowship, and Walmart 1411 in Sahuarita, as well as individual contributions.
“School staff routinely share with me that students do not have to worry about going hungry on weekends,” Carlos declared. “Students get very excited when our delivery team pulls up to the school each week!”
The program has continued uninterrupted while schools have been closed for the COVID-19 crisis, with the school districts making the BackPacks available at meal distribution points in the community.
Everyone is taking a hit from the COVID-19 crisis, and food banks are no exception.
SFB-CRC has already experienced a dramatic increase in visitors for food—295 households the week of March 16—as more of our neighbors lose income and employment every day. Other than the week before Thanksgiving, that’s a record, and that number is unfortunately expected to climb.
Restaurant employees and those in the travel industry are particularly hard hit. Asarco workers out on strike for months have had their temporary jobs cut. Many others are facing unemployment lines and daily struggles to pay bills.
Food banks are witnessing what was feared. SFB-CRC is now dealing with a decline in the amount of food contributed from a variety of sources, including the Agency Market, supermarkets, and excess Mexican produce. People are likely stockpiling groceries and using canned goods in their pantry that were once donated, so the food bank is running out of protein-rich foods, such as canned fish and meat, peanut butter, black beans, and hearty soups.
SFB-CRC also faces a probable decrease in the number of volunteers from self-quarantining and the inevitable migration of winter residents back to their summer homes. Governor Ducey has made it clear that food banks are an essential service to our communities, which is why he has authorized the National Guard to assist grocery stores and food banks. National guard troops start helping SFB-CRC on Thursday, April 2, but SFB-CRC urgently needs financial help as well.
The Board is asking that you consider a generous financial donation to help purchase protein and other food for an increasing number of those who have lost their jobs, been furloughed, or cut to part-time. Board President Penny Pestle stated that “together we can help them.”
Please go to sahuaritafoodbank.org to find out how you can help, or send a check to Sahuarita Food Bank, 17750 S. La Cañada Drive, Sahuarita, Arizona 85629. Even if you have filed your 2019 state taxes, Arizona taxpayers can claim a tax credit for 2020 with a donation to SFB-CRC, an Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization, of $400 per individual or $800 per couple filing—a chance to contribute that will cost you nothing.
Little seven-year-old Serena listened carefully. Inspired by the presentation, the youngest donor in the room walked up and gave $25.
Serena and her mom Rosemary Phillips were among the approximately 50 members of the community who helped kick off the Nourishing Our Community public campaign February 7 at Rancho Sahuarita for SFB-CRC’s new 13,000 square feet building. They were there despite the fact that dad Randall was being deployed two days later!
“We are on the home stretch,” exclaimed Board President Penny Pestle. The campaign has raised 70 percent, which is $1.5 million toward the $2.2 million goal.
Rancho Sahuarita Company’s Jeremy Sharpe generously provided the beautiful La Villita Room for the event that included music from Mary Lou Catania and delicious food provided by Ann Striker. Town of Sahuarita mayor Tom Murphy and Sahuarita Public Schools superintendent Dr. Manny Valenzuela spoke in support of the project.
“We were honored they attended,” Penny said, “and we’re grateful particularly for the support that they and the Sahuarita community are providing for the construction of the new building.”
Both large and small donations have made the difference, she indicated. The campaign has received support from foundations, large individual donors, and contracts, including contributors like La Posada, Freeport-McMoran Foundation, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, and Pima County, as well as a large anonymous donation. Freeport-McMoran has challenged the community to match its $150,000 gift.
“The new building will help us better fulfill our mission of providing sustainable food and economic security to the growing number of households who visit,” Penny added. “Emergencies in the last few years, including the government shutdown, local teachers strike, Asarco mine strike, and the Coronavirus crisis only reinforce the need for a community services hub that will be the only full-time resource of its kind in the greater Sahuarita area.”
Thoreau said it’s not what you look at; it’s what you see, and who could possibly have a more powerful perspective on the impact of SFB-CRC in this community than someone who has looked at it from “both sides?”
April Escarcega remains a grateful client and has evolved from a dedicated volunteer into a part-time paid staff member. For about four years now she has been sorting, preparing BackPacks, loading, stacking, moving, and driving, recalling the time her colleagues were stunned when she backed the big truck perfectly into a tight space her first time out.
Several years ago when April approached SFB-CRC for assistance for her disabled husband, teenage son, and herself, she was impressed by and remembered the kindness and respect she was shown, so she tries to always pass that forward.
“It was hard for me to go in,” she recalls, “but they didn’t make me feel like that.”
She would argue with anyone that might say there isn’t great need for what SFB-CRC does. She sees it each week on her Tuesday through Saturday schedule, and she hears the gratitude from clients loud and clear.
“They are so appreciative,” she said, and that inspires her to work harder at what she does.
“It doesn’t feel like working at all. It gives me a sense of doing something for others. The food bank is really proactive and they try to help everyone they can.”
April has applied for a scholarship through the Women of Quail Creek, an organization that helps local women seeking educational opportunities. Her goal is to become a warehouse manager.
Her son, a sophomore at Sahuarita High School, who’s thinking about a career in either auto technology or culinary arts, also volunteers twice a week. “He really enjoys it,” she affirmed.
April also emphasized the organization’s impact on nutrition and health. “We wouldn’t eat as healthy as we do,” she remarked. “I think it makes for a healthier community.”
“April always completes her tasks with cheer and then asks for more,” said SFB-CRC Board President Penny Pestle. “I have never known anyone who works harder and smarter. She is a gift to SFB-CRC, and with people like April, we will continue to grow this organization to meet the needs of the community.”
Are you wondering how you can help right now, even during the COVID-19 crisis? If you have experience with or skills that would relate to grant writing, you can collaborate from home with our extraordinary grant writer to help raise dollars for food and operations, as well as for our new building.
If you would like to further explore this opportunity to help your community, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
SFB-CRC is inviting members of the community to join them at Rancho Sahuarita Friday, February 7, from 4 to 6:30 p.m., for a celebration with music and great refreshments to kick off the Nourishing Our Community public campaign. It’s an opportunity to showcase the plan to construct a new building that will revolutionize services for the needy, and to show SFB-CRC’s love for this community and the many ways they serve it, such as food, health and nutrition services, family support programs, and workforce development programs. Check out the attached flyer with all the details and RSVP to email@example.com.
They had to be stopped.
Pesky squirrels took over Anamax Park’s garden enclosure, burrowing and yanking and nibbling and chomping until there were no carrots left. Countless volunteer hours of planting, watering, and fertilizing were wasted and the Town of Sahuarita’s dream to give local families and organizations a place to create their own edible crops in the park seemed to be dying in the desert dust left behind.
But then three years ago, the Town of Sahuarita Parks and Recreation Department, in collaboration with Rancho Sahuarita resident Ashley Blood, teamed up with the SFB-CRC staff to fight back. They studied squirrel traps, chemicals, feral cats and non-toxic snakes, ultimately rejecting them as ineffective, inhumane, or just plain scary, settling on a slippery solution that would eventually defeat the cunning little combatants.
The Food Bank purchased ten galvanized steel cattle troughs, very tall with slick sides that discouraged the climbing squirrels. SFB-CRC put up a shed for garden tools and bought soil and equipment and the Town pitched in with a picnic table under a shady mesquite tree, complete with irrigation and ongoing access to the garden along a newly completed sidewalk.
Today the garden has given 25 families and organizations, including Girl Scout troops and a special education preschool class, the opportunity to grow healthy food, some of which goes directly to the Food Bank. There is now a waiting list for the gardening troughs, protected by netting over PVC piping. The Joyner Green Valley and Sahuarita libraries provide gardening classes and seeds.
Ashley, who used to lead the classes through Master Gardeners, can now focus on keeping the plots occupied and encouraging all the participants.
Ashley victoriously waved the first carrot of the season, proving that perseverance and people who care about their community will always triumph.
With a new $100,000 anonymous pledge, the Sahuarita Food Bank & Community Resource Center’s Nourishing Our Community capital campaign now has reached nearly 70 percent of its $2.2 million goal.
We have received generous contributions, large and small, from 130 donors. Every donation is bringing us closer to the reality of a new building for feeding the hungry and supporting those who are seeking to strengthen their families and workforce skills, so that their lives can be more stable and economically secure. Our campaign has reached almost $1.5 million and is entering its final push.
We need your help now to meet the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation’s challenge to match their $150,000 grant with community donations. Visit sahuaritafoodbank.org/make-a-capital-gift to help us now. Or, if you or your company has a foundation that supports projects like the SFB-CRC, please contact Curtis Keim at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are an individual with questions about supporting the project, contact Penny Pestle at email@example.com.
Even with the work from 200 volunteers providing more than 22,000 hours equivalent to 11 full-time employees, the day to day operations of the SFB-CRC cannot survive without financial support from generous donors.
Operations and the Community Resource Center programs are the two major components of SFB-CRC, and all food programs are supported by operations, including food distribution to nearly a thousand people each week, the weekend BackPacks program for 455 area students in eight schools, the Wednesday Produce program, and two school pantries, as well as many behind-the-scenes activities.
The paid positions of executive director, PT material handler, and PT Bookkeeper at $85,000 per year are essential to the efficient and responsive management of operations. Milk and egg purchases to ensure needed protein for each household on their two monthly visits cost nearly $30,000 per year. BackPack supplies cost $65,000, and purchases of material handling equipment and carts and shelving add another $10,000. Maintaining a box truck and van to transport rescued and gleaned food requires about $6,000, and off-site climate-controlled storage expenditures for non-perishable foods run about $5,000 each year. Utilities, insurance, rent, and other operations and administrative expenses that total nearly $20,000 round out the operations requirements.
Every donation is critical to the operations services SFB-CRC maintains for the community.
“Without operational funding from community members,” stated Executive Director Carlos Valles, “we cannot deliver nutritious food to more than 5,500 unique individuals we are serving this year. And, that’s really what it’s all about. Your generous donation towards operational costs helps us to continue our overall mission success.”
For Arizona taxpayers, donations up to $800 per couple and $400 per individual can be a complete tax credit on 2019 taxes (if filed by April 15). This means that your donation to us, an Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization, costs you nothing!