At the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona on Jan. 17, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), Smithfield Packing, and Safeway teamed up to donate 30,000 pounds of protein to help with the growing needs of hungry families in Tucson.
The UFCW and Smithfield have been working alongside one another for the past three years in an organization called Feeding the Hungry, where they travel across the United States to offer food assistance to low-income families who are struggling to put food on their tables.
“The Feeding the Hungry program has provided food donations to more than 100 communities across the country, and it has fed hundreds of thousands of working families across the country,” said Ester Lopez, Director of UFCW International Civil Rights and Community Action. “We are honored to now be here in Tucson.”
Safeway, who is a retail partner of Smithfield, donates thousands of pounds of food each year to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, and holds several major food drives in an attempt to counteract the suffering economy and record number of requests for food assistance.
“Safeway welcomes the chance to help eradicate hunger,” said Safeway’s Director of Public Affairs Nancy Keane. “We are dedicated to assisting Arizona communities who are in need of food, and are proud to partner with the Community Food Bank in Tucson to support Arizona families.”
The combination of these three organizations resulted in 120,000 servings of protein becoming available to Tucson families on Jan. 17.
Food Bank CEO Carnegie said this will help a community that is in great need of support.
“They could have chosen any food bank in Arizona, but they chose us because of what is going on here,” he said. “This is a response to the Tucson tragedy that happened over a year ago. This is part of the healing process for the people of Southern Arizona.”
Dennis Pittman, the Smithfield Director of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs, hopes the successful partnership with Safeway and the UFCW will serve as an example in prompting more companies to come together to help with suffering communities.
Pittman said Smithfield was asked to come to Tucson in response to the shooting last January, and as an effort to help raise the awareness of food insecure homes.
“Safeway told us we needed to come here, that Tucson needed us in more ways than one,” he said. “The only thing warmer than the weather here was the reception of being here in Tucson. It’s absolutely amazing to see what you all have done in this community, especially after dealing with the tragedy that you did.”
Attending the special event was Ron Barber, District Director to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and one of those injured last Jan. 8.
Barber highlighted the necessity for programs like the UFCW and Smithfield, since the number of those struggling locally and across the nation is perhaps the highest it has ever been.
Together, Pittman and Lopez opened a truck trailer full of pallets of ham, which were passed down a line of UFCW employees and placed into shopping carts to be held for distribution from the Food Bank warehouse. The UFCW and Smithfield still have one year remaining in the Feeding the Hungry program, and hope to surpass their goal of 20 million servings nationwide.
“We have given a lot, but not nearly as much as we have been given,” said Pittman. “This food will be gone in less than 30 days, but hopefully what we have done has left an impression, an impression that labor, manufacturing, non-government agencies, and retail partners can set aside everything they are dealing with to come together to help those in their time of need.”
The donation is also helpful to the food bank that has struggled to keep enough food this year, especially during the holiday season.