By Naomi Hatch
Food boxes are delivered on the second Wednesday of each month at the Our Lady of the Snow Parish Community Center. A truck from the United Food Bank in Phoenix arrives at 10:30 a.m. filled with commodities that will be distributed. The January food distribution will be held on the third Wednesday, Jan. 15, due to the holidays.
“The arrival of this truck is equal to the environment of Santa Clause arriving on Christmas Eve,” said Denise Evans of the parish, noting, “What the truck carries is life giving to those in need.”
Deliveries never include the same items, Evans said, noting that sometimes the truck carries dairy products, produce and meat, but there are always canned items and bread, and most deliveries include sweets and desserts that are distributed.
Food boxes are distributed at no cost to recipients as long as the household qualifies. Qualification guidelines are not strict, and most families qualify under the income allowance for the program. When signing in and requesting a food box, recipients acknowledges that their family/household qualifies under the guidelines and that they know about the qualifying requirements, which are always displayed on the display board by the sign-in table. Requirements were established by United Food Bank officials in Phoenix.
“As soon as the truck arrives, the real fun begins,” said Evans, noting that a group of 20 to 25 volunteers begins sorting, organizing and getting ready for the people who are lined up outside to come in and receive a food box.
Volunteers range in age, economic and social groups, but generally the ratio of male to female is pretty equal, said Evans. “All volunteers are joyful, happy individuals who enjoy helping others and who show up every month to help out,” she said.
Our Lady of the Snow Mobile Food Pantry coordinators are Parish Secretary Bonnie Myers, and CCD/Atrium/Sunday School teacher Pearl Porritt, and they keep everyone working inside organized and motivated.
Outside, Evans is keeping things organized and safe, making sure the truck has a spot to park and no one is in the way as the pallets are unloaded, and answering questions.
People line up outside beginning at 10:30 a.m., waiting to sign in and receive a number, with the first number called at 11 a.m. or as soon as volunteers are ready. Recipients go inside one number at a time to minimize confusion and pressure on people who are receiving food boxes. Recipients are asked to bring boxes, bags or containers to carry their food, and it helps if they bring help to carry heavier items.
The December distribution included eggs, juice, peanut butter, canned vegetables, canned soup, bread, cakes/pies, packaged/commercial sweets, bagged frozen chicken leg quarters, bagged salad, and fruit, including celery, plums, apples and bananas.
The December truck brought 2,280 pounds of food, which was distributed to 72 households, which vary in size from one to nine members. Volunteers served them in just 45 minutes.
If you are interested in volunteering or would like to know more about the program, contact Bonnie Myers at Our Lady of the Snow Catholic Church at 536-4559.
By Naomi Hatch