A couple weeks ago Mia’s second grade class took a field trip to our local Food Bank. The class had been learning about hunger and collecting food to donate.
Our tour began with Alyson introducing herself and telling us a little about what we would see.
We passed by an area for the little ones. Our local food bank has become a one stop center for agencies that serve our less fortunate community members. So while Mom and/or Dad is getting help, another family member or friend can occupy the little ones time in this shaded play area.
Many years ago the Food Bank started a demonstration garden. Their goal was to help the community learn how to grow our own food, compost and harvest water. The garden at the Country Club location has grown and matured. There are now acres of food being grown in Marana too. A couple times a week food is harvested and delivered within hours to many of our local farmer’s markets. Tuesday mornings you can stop by the Farmers Market at 3003 South Country Club and purchase fresh, in season produce.
The children were asked to find different vegetables in the garden. Our assignment was artichokes. This is the first time I had ever seen artichokes before harvesting. You get to learn something new every day.
Our next stop was inside the huge food bank warehouse. Food comes from many different sources. Our local grocery stores donated six million pounds of food in 2013. Monetary contributions are always welcomed. A $1 donation will purchase $10 worth of food.
Everything that comes into the food bank is weighed and recorded.
That includes the visiting class. Their total was 1650 pounds. The adults had to step up and be accounted for too. We were a mere 950. My lips will never reveal how many of us were on the scale.
All of Tucson continually donates canned food. Boxes are waiting to be sorted, labels checked for expiration dates and dented cans. There’s a current food recall list to check too. It helps assure no bad food goes back into our community. One of the greatest needs is for peanut butter. All jars need to be checked to confirm they were never opened. Who knew there was so much work on the back end of your valued donation.
It takes a lot of volunteers to pack the daily food boxes.
Many years ago the Food Bank was able to install this huge freezer. The goal is to have it filled with chickens, turkeys and hams to feed families during the holidays. Sadly there wasn’t much inside the day we visited. The children were allowed in for less than a minute to experience the size and temperature. Of course they all needed to walk like a penguin. Teachers and Alyson did a headcount twice before locking the door. You can never be too safe around the little ones.
Alyson showed us the contents of a food box for a family of one adult and one child. They can receive only one of these a month. My eyes filled with tears to see how little was inside. My thoughts turned to the parent who said I’m not hungry so their child could have a little more. Tucson has more than our share of families struggling to make ends meet, often working several jobs to survive. It can be a challenge to pay rent, utilities, gas/transportation to work and feed your family on what is left over.
Alyson explained to us, despite all the shelves filled with food, if donations stopped today they would be out of food in six weeks. This concluded our tour. The children walked back to their buses and departed to enjoy their lunch in a nearby park and back to school. What a great field trip to learn about the process of bringing fresh food to the table, how valuable the donations of food and money are to our community and to learn about volunteering. It’s a day they will take with them for the rest of their lives.
This time of year the Food Bank’s across the country are coming into their time of most need and fewer donations. Please consider donating your time, money or food to your local Food Bank. In Tucson, our Community Food Bank is working to make a difference, let’s be part of it. Please share in the comments below the organizations you volunteer your time to make a difference. Thank you.