Hope for Hunger Food Bank Launches “Stock the Pantry” Initiative during “Hunger Action Month”

Hope for Hunger Food Bank Launches ‘Stock the Pantry’ Initiative During ‘Hunger Action Month'

Phoenix Rescue Mission’s food bank asking public to help address food insecurity in the Valley

PHOENIX (September 1, 2021) – Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Hope for Hunger Food Bank is launching its “Stock the Pantry” campaign, a month-long food drive beginning on September 1 to support the high number of families suffering from food insecurity, largely as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

Stock the Pantry will coincide with Hunger Action Month, a nationwide campaign championed by Feeding America to stand against hunger and raise awareness of the millions of children and adults who aren’t getting the proper food they need to thrive. Locally, the number of families experiencing food insecurity is increasing faster than current supplies can maintain, which is why Hope for Hunger is asking the public to help “Stock the Pantry.” Supporters of the campaign can bring dry and canned foods directly to Hope for Hunger in Glendale or donate online at phxmission.org/stockthepantry

“One in eight Arizona households rely on food banks to feed their families; meaning, many of our neighbors are struggling to make ends meet right now,” said Phoenix Rescue Mission CEO, Ken Brissa. “Families that never dreamed of needing help with food are finding themselves outside our doors. There’s no telling how many more will need help in the weeks and months ahead.”

Arizona reported the 3rd highest poverty rate among the nation’s 25 largest metro areas, with one in five children suffering from hunger, according to statistics measured prior to the pandemic. As the pandemic continues to impact the local community, the number of children suffering from food insecurity is only expected to rise, especially in the next few months. Phoenix Rescue Mission and Hope for Hunger are addressing the problem of food insecurity holistically, not only treating the hunger symptoms but also the root causes, by providing job training, help with required certifications and education, counseling and other resources.

“We are fighting hunger in our communities in several ways,” said Brissa. “For one, we are feeding hundreds in our residential recovery programs. In addition, we’ve established vocational training programs while simultaneously offering food at our Hope for Hunger Food Bank, which is one of the largest food banks in the Valley serving more than 150 people per day. Finally, we’re helping struggling families with groceries and hygiene supplies at our Community Market and Mobile Food Pantries.”

Families across the Valley will immediately benefit from the Stock the Pantry campaign, thanks to the streamlined, mobile efforts of Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Community Engagement teams. In fact, staff and volunteers can quickly distribute food and resources to various high-demand regions of the metropolitan area via several targeted Mobile Food Pantries. This allows Phoenix Rescue Mission to bypass transportation barriers that have traditionally kept many families from receiving the food and resources they so desperately need.

“We are acutely aware of the fact that the Valley has many food desserts, where there’s not only a lack of food in the regions but most families living there don’t even have transportation to get to a food pantry,” said Brissa. “That’s where we come in. We’ve targeted several regions where we can set up shop in those neighborhoods and get this food to those who need it most. But we can’t do that without the help from the public, and that’s what Stock the Pantry is all about – raising awareness of the need and motivating the public into action.”

For more information and to learn about Phoenix Rescue Mission and Hope for Hunger Food Bank, please visit www.PhoenixRescueMission.org

 

Phoenix Rescue Mission:

Phoenix Rescue Mission provides Christ-centered, life-transforming solutions to persons facing hunger, homelessness, addiction, and trauma. The nonprofit Mission, which has been operating since 1952, is asking the public for support of its many programs designed to transform lives, including Hope for Hunger Food Bank, Hope Coach Street Outreach, Temporary Shelter Programs, Men’s Addiction Recovery Program and the Changing Lives Center for Women and Children.

 

Media Contact:

Ryan Brown, Phoenix Rescue Mission, cell: (302) 359-6780, rbrown@phxmission.org

Hope for the Hungry [Angela’s story]

When her cupboard was bare, you came through for Angela! 

It seemed like all of Angela’s dreams were coming true.

The adoption papers had been finalized. She was getting ready to start a new job that would allow ample time with her new baby. Everything she had worked for was finally falling into place.

Then Angela tested positive for COVID-19.

“I had it for 19 days, so it was pretty bad.” Angela remembers. “You can’t leave your house; you can’t do anything.”

The virus effectively put her under house arrest. Her employer moved on. Without the ability to buy food, her health and her adoption were in jeopardy.

In desperation, Angela reached out for help through email – and you answered the call.

Angela was in a tight spot. She couldn’t leave her house and was running out of food. But even if her COVID disappeared tomorrow, she didn’t have the money to afford groceries – let alone all the things her new baby would need. In a frenzy, she began emailing organizations across the Valley looking for help. Thanks to your support, our Case Manager Ceanna responded.

“Ceanna was the one who ended up emailing me back and saying that she found my information, and that she wanted to help me. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s so awesome!’ I was so thankful because I couldn’t get an answer from anyone else.”

The next day, Angela opened her door to find food, clothes and a few surprises waiting for her.

“Ceanna showed up at my door with all kinds of food. They gave me meat, eggs, milk, produce, canned goods, everything that I need. It was all fresh, nothing out of date. They even gave me vitamins for COVID, and toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, and a bunch of toiletries.”

When Angela needed help putting food on the table for herself and her baby, your support allowed our Hope for Hunger Food Bank to be there with fresh food and other essentials for them.

But it was what she found next that touched her heart.

“I found things in there for my baby,” she says wiping away a tear. “They gave me little clothes, pacifiers, diapers, wipes and formula too... Then Ceanna says to me, ‘Whatever you need, just tell me, and I’ll get it for you. If we have it, it’s yours.’ All I could say was, ‘Wow!’”

“Wow!” That’s the sound of your support in action. Today, Angela is the proud mother of a 4-month-old, she’s COVID-free and is well on her way to finding employment through our Vocational Development Program – thanks to the loving partnership of friends like you.

But Angela’s predicament is far from unique. Since the pandemic, a staggering 1 in 3 households in Arizona are experiencing food insecurity. That’s a 28% increase over the year before! Out of sight and alone, it’s easy for people like Angela to fall through the cracks.

Elzbieta, a 55-year-old immigrant from Poland was struggling to make rent when the pandemic hit.

“I moved to Glendale to work at a German restaurant, then the business closed because of the coronavirus.”

Then Elzbieta got sick.

“About December, I got the coronavirus myself. I was struggling with it for six weeks. I needed help! Then somebody told me about you [Phoenix Rescue Mission].”

When Elzbieta came knocking, your compassion opened the door, bringing fresh food and toiletries to her home.

“God provided for me! The [Hope for Hunger] Food Bank means so much. Looking at what they have given me makes me say ‘hallelujah!’ I appreciate it so much. It’s wonderful!”

Elzbieta migrated from Poland, but found herself out of work because of COVID. She was directed to Phoenix Rescue Mission where she found the help she needed.

Without you, these and many other stories would turn tragic. But thanks to your support, we’re able to stand in the gap for people like Angela and Elzbieta, giving them hope and a hand up that sees them through to the other side of these uncertain times.

In 2020, food prices jumped 2.6% and it shows no sign of stopping. The USDA estimates grocery bills rising another 3% by the end of the year – putting a huge strain on the families we serve.

nbcnews.com, ers.usda.gov

With your support during Hunger Action Month each September and throughout the rest of the year, we’re standing in the gap to keep hungry men, women and children safe and fed. You can make a difference today by starting a canned food drive in your neighborhood, workplace or church.
Visit phxmission.org/needs for more information.

Thanksgiving & Receiving | Charles’ Story

Your support helped this faithful volunteer when he needed it most.

Loving his neighbor always came easily to Charles. He spent much of his time in California helping people out at church or the local food bank. But when rent in Long Beach started to outpace his income, he knew he couldn’t stay.

“I kept telling myself that the Lord was going to make a way for me,” says Charles.

He and his wife quickly found a new home here in Phoenix. Soon after, he picked up a steady job as a Security Guard at the Phoenix Convention Center. God even directed his car past Hope for Hunger Food Bank, to get him back to what he loved doing the most. Charles signed up to volunteer immediately.

But God had another reason to make this connection. Charles never imagined that the place he was helping would someday help him.

“I’ve been here every day at 6am for almost four years,” says Charles with a smile. “Serving the Lord keeps me coming back every day.”

Most mornings you can find Charles directing traffic in the parking lot of Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Hope for Hunger Food Bank, keeping the line moving and the food flowing. But over the past four years, he’s lent a hand in all areas of the food bank – and had some incredible moments.

“I’ll never forget the lady who came in here and she had 8 or 9 kids. She broke down crying when she saw how much food she was getting. We all surrounded her in prayer. When it was over, she said, ‘I needed that!’ She was so grateful because she didn’t know where she was going to get food.”

It’s an experience he’s seen time and time again.

“You don’t know what a person is going through when they come here. They can be mad at the world and you give them a cart and tell them, ‘The Lord is going to make it better for you.’ And they look at you and you can tell He’s already in there making a difference.”

It’s a promise that Charles has had to hold on to this year. When COVID made headlines in March, conventions and businesses of all types shut their doors across the country – and that’s bad news for a security guard.

Charles not only lost his job; he lost his industry.

Weeks of job-hunting turned into months. Savings ran dry. Charles suddenly found himself in the shoes of the countless families he served here at Hope for Hunger.

“I adjusted my shopping list accordingly to keep us fed, but Hope for Hunger was there when I needed it.

Like thousands of other families every month, Charles had access to food when he needed it most, thanks to you.

This year serves as a stark reminder that hunger can strike any one of us, especially during a pandemic. Countless individuals and parents have been blindsided, never thinking in a million years they would be struggling to put food on the table. It will be a long time before families fully recover – they need help now more than ever!

It’s your prayers and strong support that are keeping families fed, making ends meet and keeping countless men, women children off the streets this season. And while the same is true for Charles, we’re sad to report that he still hasn’t found employment. Unfortunately, we’ve lost the service of this much-loved and faithful volunteer as he headed back to Mississippi last month to work on his family’s farm.

As sad as we are to see him go, we know that God will continue to make a way for him. On behalf of all of us at Hope for Hunger, we’ll miss you Charles!

“I love coming here, greeting people, talking to people, giving them hope. It’s like a family. This place is a blessing for anybody.”

Hungry to Help | Angie’s Story

Angie’s heart goes out to the families who visit Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Hope for Hunger Food Bank. It’s because she’s been there, and knows the fear that comes from being unable to feed your kids.

“I was a single mom of three, working two jobs to make ends meet. But then some medical issues cropped up and I couldn’t drive for a while. We ate a lot of mac and cheese and ramen but, eventually, I had to admit that I couldn’t keep it up. I had to go to the food bank. It took a lot to ask for help.”

Today, she gives back by volunteering her time to keep hungry families fed. But as the pandemic grinds on, Angie’s noticed the number of families pulling into the parking lot is on the rise. It’s not just her imagination. Due to the coronavirus, the number of children identified as ‘food insecure’ in Maricopa County is projected to increase another 9.4 percent by the end of the year.*

That’s 49,541 more families in trouble. That’s 99,083 more kids who won’t be getting enough to eat. Together, we can put food on the table. Hunger Action Month is here and it’s time to get to work.

Years later, I can still remember the fear I had walking into the food bank. I felt like a failure. But the people there were non-judgmental. They smiled at me, asking what I needed, telling me to take this and that. It was a huge relief.

"I see that same fear on the faces of parents here. It’s cool to be one of those people now who can put them at ease. To see that fear turn to relief is amazing.

Monday through Friday, every week, you can find Angie in the food bank parking lot, ushering in cars full of families who need help. Back in October, she was serving once or twice a week. But when Covid-19 hit and many of our volunteers decided to stay home, Angie stepped up to fill the gap – even though doing so made her uncomfortable.

“I started to get nervous, not so much about getting the virus, but because I didn’t want my kids and my grandkids to be scared to be around me. So I prayed about it, trusted God, and the next time I came in they had a new procedure, where we started loading food directly into the cars instead of having people come into the warehouse. That’s happened three different times. Each time I got nervous about something, there was a policy change to keep everyone safe. They’re [PRM staff] so good and careful. They look out for us.

But even with the faithful service of people like Angie, there’s still plenty of need for volunteers.

“We always need volunteers,” says Danny Dahm, our Food Bank Coordinator. “Many of our consistent, elderly volunteers have had to remain at home for their own safety. Young people have stepped up to help out in their place during the pandemic. It’s been very encouraging to see, but we’re ramping up for our big turkey drive and we’ll need as much help as we can get.”

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and this year, there will be more families in need than ever before.

“We’ll have bins set up at Wal-Marts throughout Peoria and Glendale, but people can also drop off turkeys here as well. Of course, canned and dry goods, non-perishables, are always needed as well,” says Danny. (See the enclosed Hunger Action Month insert for a full list of needed items.)

Right now, Angie sees around 175 cars a day, many representing more than one family. Thanks to God’s mercy and your support, supply is, so far, keeping pace with demand. But as the weeks stretch on and more and more jobs are lost to quarantine, the number of families who need help getting to the other side of this pandemic is on the rise.

“We tell people, ‘The earlier, the better!’” says Angie. “We give out lots of food, but near the end of the day we start seeing the carts come out with less and less food. It’s whatever God provides.”

Every day, it’s your prayers and support, putting food on the table for hungry families across the valley. Thank you for keeping thousands of men, women and children safe during these uncertain times.

“God protected me and the kids back then and it’s amazing to be in the season now where I can give back.”

*https://www.feedingamericaaction.org/the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-food-insecurity/

“I was looking to serve and a lot of places were setting up food drives, but this place was already handing out food! Plus, it was easy to register and quick to get started. I was eager to get going and put my time to good use!”

– Joe, Food Bank volunteer