With high grocery costs and more people needing food assistance, local food banks, pantries and other distribution programs are scrambling to keep pace with the increasing demand.
Locally, the Benson Area Food Bank and Community Food Pantry of Benson are serving unusually large numbers of people. In addition, POWWOW (Produce On Wheels WithOut Waste), a low-cost produce distribution program, is seeing a high number of participants at its monthly distributions.
Benson Area Food Bank
The Benson Area Food Bank is at 370 Huachuca St., at the intersection of Huachuca and Seventh streets.
Hours are Monday through Friday, 9-11:30 a.m.
Because the facility is not federally subsidized, it depends on grants, donations and fundraisers for the food it distributes.
Families on food stamps, the working poor, homeless citizens and foster children programs are examples of some of the groups that benefit from the food bank distribution.
About 500 people come through the Benson Area Food Bank every week for assistance.
For information, call 520-586-7916.
The tough economic times and high grocery prices have the Benson Area Food Bank struggling to keep its shelves filled with food for the community’s needy, according to Gail Lenney, a resident of SKP Saguaro RV Park in Benson.
“Every year, SKP Park holds a fundraising party in January to raise money and collect food donations to support the Benson food bank,” Lenney said.
The park’s “Polar Bear” party raised $9,300 at its 2020 event, along with nearly 3,000 pounds of nonperishable food items for the food bank’s distribution efforts.
Jack and Joy Reilly have been managing the food bank for nearly 12 years and are deeply moved by all donations that come into the facility.
“About 500 people a week come through the Benson food bank for assistance,” Joy Reilly said in an earlier interview. “Every January, we know we can count on SKP Park for a significant contribution, which is greatly appreciated. We are not federally subsidized, so we rely entirely on grants, donations and fundraisers for the food we distribute to those who need assistance. We’re fortunate that Benson is such a generous community. Without our donors, we would not be able to continue providing the food assistance that is so desperately needed.”
Community Food Pantry of Benson
The Community Food Pantry of Benson is located at 2300 W. Calvary Lane on the Calvary Baptist Church campus in Benson.
Food distributions are Wednesdays from 9-11:30 a.m.
The food pantry is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that depends on grants, fundraisers and donations for its distribution efforts.
One way to assist the pantry is to go to the Community Food Pantry of Benson home page, www.bensonfoodpantry.org and become a Pantry Partner. Businesses or individuals can pledge monetary assistance through pantry partners either monthly or annually.
For information about the Community Food Pantry of Benson, call the pantry at 520-200-5186 or email email@example.com.
The Community Food Pantry of Benson served 1,110 people at its holiday distribution the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, said Najayyah Many Horses, president of the organization’s board.
“We spent about $4,000 for turkeys and hams and $2,190 on extra items like canned goods, stuffing, potatoes and gravy.”
Nearly everyone who came through the food pantry received a full Thanksgiving dinner, including turkey or ham and all the fixings, Many Horses said.
“When we ran out of turkeys and hams, we substituted with chicken, ribs and other kinds of meat, so everyone received a meat item for their Thanksgiving dinner.”
Fresh produce, bakery goods and bread also were part of Wednesday’s distribution.
The Food Pantry is a nonprofit organization run by volunteers and operates on fundraisers, donations and grants.
“We have all the overhead of a regular business, which includes utilities, insurance and building and vehicle maintenance,” said Many Horses, who noted that the organization’s “Pantry Partners” program is one way to support the pantry and its distribution efforts. Information about pantry partners can be found on the organization’s home page: www.bensonfoodpantry.org.
Produce On Wheels WithOut Waste (POWWOW)
Produce on Wheels WithOut Waste, or POWWOW sells fresh produce at the reduced price of $15 per 70 pounds.
The program is offered on the first Saturday of the month, Dec. 3, 8-11 a.m. while supplies last.
Vehicles line up at the Tractor Supply Co. parking lot, 350 S. Ocotillo Ave., in Benson for the monthly distribution.
This is an all-volunteer program of Borderlands Produce Rescue, a nonprofit organization based in Nogales, Arizona. Benson’s distributions are the first Saturday of the month through May. For information, go to the website: www.borderlandsproducerescue.org.
Sherrie and Miles Wofford are the volunteer coordinators for the Benson area. Sherrie Miles can be reached via text message, 520-265-2010.
Produce on Wheels WithOut Waste, or POWWOW, kicked off in Benson on Nov. 5 at the Tractor Supply Co. parking lot. The program will continue to serve Benson on the first Saturday of the month from 8-11 a.m., or while supplies last, through May.
POWWOW is a program of Borderlands Produce Rescue, a nonprofit organization based in Nogales, Arizona. Its mission is to provide fresh produce to communities at the affordable cost of $15 for 70 pounds of product.
“That comes out to about 22 cents a pound,” said Sherrie Wofford who, with her husband, Miles, are dubbed the POWWOW “head honchos” for Benson.
Produce from Mexico comes through a huge warehouse in Nogales and is purchased by grocery stores. Items that are not purchased are rescued by Borderlands volunteers and made available for communities at greatly reduced prices.
“Before people come through our distributions, all products are hand sorted and packaged by teams of volunteers,” Wofford said.
Those interested in purchasing produce at Saturday’s distribution are advised to arrive early.
“Depending on the number of people who come through the line, we sometimes run out of produce,” Wofford said. “We never know how much we’re going to receive, or how many people we’ll be serving on any given Saturday.”