A Tempe food bank will reopen today in a bigger location to serve the growing number of East Valley families who need help with their food bills.
The Community Economic Development Alliance food pantry at 930 W. Broadway Road will give out a month’s worth of food to anyone who asks for it, said agency director Laura Smith. People can visit as many as many as six times a year as long as they have identification, she said.
The pantry had been located for three years down the street, but it is growing into what could be the East Valley’s largest food assistance program, Smith said. It has served about 2,500 people so far this year, many of whom have never needed help with their food bills before.
"You have people who slowly walk in the door, and they kind of look at you and say, ‘This is my first time,’ " she said. "I tell them we’re here to help them get back on their feet."
Most of her customers don’t fit the stereotype of a homeless person, she said.
"It’s a lot of mothers who have probably lost their job," she said. "The face of the homeless and the hungry has changed. It’s not the old man begging for food and the corner. It’s families."
The alliance food bank is now a popular choice for East Valley families who had traveled to St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix, she said.
The group, which also provides help with finding housing and support services, is a nonprofit organization affiliated with St. Mary’s Food Bank and funded mostly through ValueOptions, a mental health and substance abuse service that sends many of its clients to the pantry. To donate food or money or to find out more about the pantry, call (480) 921-1990.