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Volunteers deliver for Community Food Bank in busiest week of year

Community Food Bank volunteers fill cars with essentials outside the Tucson warehouse on Tuesday, Nov. 23.
Posted at 10:28 PM, Nov 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-26 00:28:25-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — It’s the busiest week of the year for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona as hundreds of local families needed food on the table for Thanksgiving.

Hundreds of cars lined up outside the Food Bank’s Tucson warehouse on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thankfully, dozens of dedicated volunteers were there to deliver for them.

“If we don’t have these volunteers here, people don’t get food,” said Lynda Smith, who has been volunteering weekly with the Food Bank since 2014.

The Food Bank reports serving 906 families on Tuesday and 711 on Wednesday, for a total of 1,617 families this week.

Those numbers are down from last year’s operation at the Kino Sports Complex parking lot, which involved four lines instead of two. The Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving 2020 served 1,952 and 2,359 families, respectively.

Still, this year’s turnout shows what Smith calls “a desperate need” for food.

“The need has escalated immensely,” she said of the time since the pandemic began. “It’s much longer, there’s more cars, the family sizes are bigger. You can tell that these people need the food. They’re waiting in line for hours.”

Those that did arrive had their trunks loaded with essentials like milk, eggs, butter, bread, cheese, produce and more.

Some volunteers joined the cause this year, recognizing the growing need for people to address the increased need for food.

Lindsey Dooley did so in February, recognizing COVID’s impact and finding an opportunity to give back.

“Kind of blew my mind that people in the United States and in the city I live in aren’t able to feed their families as easily as others,” she said. “So, I wanted to help out.”

Tuesday was Brian Ingold’s first day as a volunteer. He was back in Tucson visiting family this week for the holiday and joined as a volunteer after hearing about his dad doing so and finding joy in a place where there is desperation.

“Kind of can be a little bit heavy, right? And he always is just so happy when he talks about [volunteering],” Ingold said of his father.

What volunteers have found from those receiving the food is genuine appreciation.

“A lot of ‘Thank You’s, a lot of ‘God Bless You,’” Dooley said. “A lot of gratitude and appreciation. People are so sweet. I leave feeling really warm and fuzzy cause everyone’s so nice to us.”

“They are very grateful,” Ingold said. “It’s not a show, it’s not an act. It’s easy to see why you kind of get sucked in to being here week after week when you kind of get that feeling afterwards.”

The high demand for food is expected to continue throughout the holiday season.