As the holiday season approaches, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona is asking the community to consider volunteering their time to help serve those in need across the Old Pueblo.
Executive Director Michael McDonald said he expects the need for their services to increase by 30% during this season as compared to last year’s holiday season. The food bank saw demand double from last year before the Thanksgiving holiday, according to McDonald.
“We definitely need community help with volunteerism through the holidays and well into the new calendar year as the economic impact of the pandemic will continue,” McDonald said. “If the eviction moratorium ends, that 30% increase we’re seeing each week is going to rise.”
McDonald is anticipating the CDC’s federal moratorium on evictions to expire on Dec. 31. The federal moratorium originally went into effect on Sept. 4 and overrode the state’s own moratorium that was scheduled to end on Oct. 31.
“We do think there will be another spike right before the end of the calendar year. We do anticipate the moratorium on evictions being lifted,” McDonald said. “Unless that changes, we’re expecting even more vulnerable people in the new year, so we’re preparing by just having sufficient inventory.”
The food bank is in good shape with the necessities needed to serve the community this season, but they’re seeing fewer donations from grocery stores as the pandemic continues. McDonald said they’re grateful for financial donations the food bank receives because it helps offset the cost of the food they receive from the United States Department of Agriculture.
“We work with about 400 other agencies and many of them are directly picking up food at grocery stores which are at a much lower volume than what we would typically see, but we get plenty of food from the USDA that’s in stock and on the way,” McDonald said. “There are certain foods that we don’t get donated, like pinto beans. We have to pay for shipping, transportation and staffing, so a financial contribution is always appreciated.”
Local businesses are also helping out during the holiday season by setting up food drives at their establishments. Jonathan’s Cork, on Tucson’s east side is opening their doors to make dropping off food donations easier for those in his area. Restaurant Manager Rovella Ruscitti said she spearheaded the effort after a conversation with her horseback riding friends on a chilly day.
“One day when it was too cold to ride, me and my group of cowgirls were sitting around talking about the stress so many families are under in our community,” Ruscitti said. “We decided that something needed to be done and the idea quickly took shape. A call to the food bank was made and our hope has now become a reality.”
Jonathan’s Cork will be accepting donations until Dec. 22.
To donate or to volunteer at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona this season, checkout their website at communityfoodbank.org.