Hunger in America and the World: Arizona USA Market -- and Beyond
Arizona's St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance, which provides emergency food assistance to people throughout the state, and Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market jointly said last week the Southern California-based small-format grocery and fresh foods chain, which operates 28 stores in the Phoenix region, has donated a quantity of food products over the last year to the Arizona group's food bank network that equals 705,300 meals.
According to Fresh & Easy's chief marketing officer Simon Uwins and Mary Shannon, the CEO of the St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance, the grocer and the non-profit group struck-up a relationship shortly after Tesco opened its first Fresh & Easy stores in the Phoenix Metro region market in November-December 2007. The Fresh & Easy markets have been donating fresh food , including produce, and grocery products to St. Mary's since then.
"Our relationship with Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is unique and particularly valuable because it has allowed us to enhance the amount of fresh produce we are able to distribute," St. Mary's CEO Terry Shannon says.
"Because of the unprecedented need for food, particularly in the last four months, everything Fresh & Easy is able to donate to us through their 28 Arizona stores, has fed many Arizonans we would otherwise not be able to serve."
Numerous other supermarket chains and independents in Arizona, such as Wal-Mart, Bashas, Safeway, Albertsons, Fry's and others, donate food to the food bank alliance, as well as conduct in-store food drives for the region's food banks and other emergency food relief groups.
Corporately, Wal-Mart recently donated $2.5 million to Feeding America, the national food bank network in the U.S., and pledged to give at least 90 million pounds of food to the organization each year over the next few years.
This unprecedented need for food by food banks and organizations feeding the hungry -- who are looking more like all of us every week -- has grown dramatically over the last few months as the recession has worsened and the unemployment ranks continues to swell.
For example, Feeding America (formerly America's Second Harvest Food Bank) says demand for food and groceries from the thousands of food pantry and related community organizations it provides food to is up by about 50%. Local food programs report similar numbers, some even saying the number of people seeking help from their programs has far more than doubled in just the last few months.
The food and grocery retailing industry, along with food manufacturers, has stepped up its giving to Second Harvest and other groups as well. Numerous retail chains like Wal-Mart, Kroger and Safeway Stores, Inc. recently announced they will be giving what totals millions of dollars (collectively) worth of turkey's, hams and other holiday food items to Feed America next week, for example.
In California, Nevada and Arizona (where Tesco's Fresh & Easy has its 104 fresh food and grocery markets), three of the U.S. states hardest hit by the housing foreclosure crisis and high unemployment (for example, California's unemployment rate soared from 7.4% in October to 8.4% in November, it was reported by the state government yesterday) the increased demand for food assistance is particularly strong -- and growing.
For example, last week food pantries in San Francisco and Los Angeles said the demand is so strong for food assistance that they are about 40% behind (supply) the ability to meet the needs of the growing number of people seeking even short-term assistance. They are sending out an emergency SOS for donations.
St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance head Mary Shannon says the demand for food assistance in Arizona is up a whopping 70% this year. For example, the food bank network distributed its highest number of emergency food boxes in history during the November Thanksgiving holiday weekend this year, according to CEO Shannon. [11/26: Food Bank Delivers RECORD-BREAKING AMOUNT OF FOOD BOXES.]
Ways You Can Help:
To our readers: We encourage you to donate what you can, as we are doing, to your local community food bank or programs that help those who need emergency food assistance.
If you live in the U.S. and are looking for a central place to donate, you can do so to Feeding America at its Web site here. Feeding America provides food grants free of charge to food bank and emergency food programs throughout the U.S.
Arizona's St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance also excepts donations via its Web site here.
The United Nation's World Food Programme, which provides food assistance to people in developing and underdeveloped countries, also is in need of help. You can learn more at its Web site here.
You can also help provide food to the hungry in underdeveloped nations without spending a dime. Go to the FreeRice.com Web site here, play the vocabulary game, and for each answer you get right, participating companies will donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nation's World Food Programme. It's a fun and simple way to help the hungry -- and it only takes a few minutes of your time. For example, we just spent 10 minutes playing the vocabulary game and ended up donating over 1,000 grains of rice in that short amount of time.
>Click here for a list of various hunger relief organizations and programs in the U.S.
>Click here for a list of global hunger relief organizations.
>Click here to read about ways you can donate food for the holiday season.