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Renovations boost what Food Bank can do

$4 Mil project enhances food offerings
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Posted at 7:23 PM, May 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 22:55:00-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona has been a lifeline for families hit hard by the pandemic. Now that lifeline’s grown stronger through generous donations that paid for major upgrades.

As the pandemic cranked up demand, people in five counties depended on the Community Food Bank to hold off their hunger. Now a generous community has fed the Food Banks ability to serve the people who depend on it.

Food pick up lines have been a barometer of how our area has coped with the pandemic and what it did to jobs and families. Food Bank CEO Michael McDonald says before the virus the Food Bank was feeding about two hundred thousand people but when the virus hit demand doubled.

“It's gotten less busy in the last couple of months, probably because the federal benefits and job market getting better.”

But he says they still see the need to stockpile more food. Now thanks to four million dollars in donations they’re better equipped to do that.

Stout new racks help store more food and help workers get to it more efficiently.

A new cooler and freezer complex has beefed up the food bank’s ability to handle fresh food so recipients can have more fruit, vegetables and meat in their diets.

Mc Donald says, “The Food Bank is really on a roll to get highly nutritious food into households, especially vulnerable households where their immune systems are compromised so we are bringing tens of millions of pounds of food from the Mexican border here in Southern Arizona. It's food that would go to waste going to landfill. Now we can store it safely here and get it out to tens of thousands of people in the US across southern Arizona.”

It actually helped with the upgrade when the pandemic pushed demand to its peak. To have room for more pick-ups, the Food Bank temporarily moved distribution to the Kino Sports Complex. That made it easier for workers to build in the improvements.

Michael McDonald says the donors who made millions of dollars in upgrades possible would rather keep a low profile. He says many smaller donors added their own help in a campaign so generous the Food Bank was able to complete the renovations without running up any debt.