TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The pandemic quickly spurred a food crisis for many families across the region. Southern Arizona food pantries have seen a surge in demand lately and distribution centers are also hungry for help.
The second Thursday of each month brings volunteers to St. Vincent de Paul. It’s where the Midwest Food Bank’s satellite location in Tucson collects and distributes food donations.
“The goal would be to eliminate food insecurity,” said Curtis Kaufman, the Ambassador of the Midwest Food Bank. “We are starting to be known. We are kind of in a niche where it seems like we serve a lot of little groups.”
The nonprofit serves churches, shelter’s, veteran centers and community food banks. It adds up fast.
“We are just at the seams of serving about 40 to 42 agencies a month,” Kaufman said.
Those agencies need even more these days. Mauricio Lopez is a pastor at the Universal Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ in Amado. A year ago, he started a food pantry for the town of about 300 people.
“We started with about 35 families,” Lopez said. “But then COVID-19 came, [and] we are at about 180 families right now.”
The demand is being felt right up the food chain.
“We have seen our numbers jump by 100%,” Kaufman said. “Before the pandemic, the Midwest Food Bank was serving about 35,000 people in southern Arizona. Now, we are up at around 75,000.”
The growing need requires growing support.
“On the supply-side we can always use more help,” Kaufman said.
As it hands out more than 80,000 pounds of food over the next few days, Midwest Food Bank is determined to help those who help others.
“Coming together and putting aside all [our] differences, we do make a big difference,” Lopez said.