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Local food banks rise above challenges of pandemic

Local food banks rise above challenges of pandemic
Posted at 10:43 PM, Dec 31, 2021
and last updated 2022-01-01 00:43:40-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Food banks nationwide have struggled to keep up with increased demand during the pandemic. This is especially a challenge due to inflation and supply chain issues.

Despite national trends, Tucson food banks are doing better than ever.

“We expected it to be really challenging but it all went very smoothly and we were able to give out more food than we usually do, to far more people,” said Barbara McClure, Executive Director at IMPACT Southern Arizona.

IMPACT of Southern Arizona says it enrolled 678 new clients into its food bank during the pandemic. Despite this increased demand, volunteers had more than enough to provide for those in need.

“Food donations and volunteer numbers both increased quite heavily during the pandemic,” McClure said.

Community food bank received 45,000 pounds of food donations at their Winterhaven Drive. The food bank’s chief development officer says this number is above average.

“In general our food donations are up, we’re doing a lot more food drives,” said Sio Castillo, Chief Development Officer at Community Food Bank.

While the pandemic had many people leaving their jobs, community food bank never had employee or volunteer shortages.

“We absolutely saw an increased need during the pandemic, and we absolutely saw the community step up to that,” Castillo said.

The Tucson Neighborhood Food Pantry saw similar trends.

“We’ve had an increase in community support," said Debbie Struble, Executive Director at Tucson Neighborhood Food Pantry. "Not just from organizations and businesses, but also individuals.”

Executive director Debbie Struble says people wanted to help more than ever during the pandemic.

“Anytime there’s a crisis, people come together to help each other,” Struble said.

The three food banks agree, they would have really struggled without Tucson’s generosity.

“It was really incredible, I think we’re so fortunate to live in a community that supports its residents,” McClure said.