The Tempe Community Action Agency is asking for donations after having run out of protein that it's always been able to include in food packages for the needy.
The nonprofit saw demand shoot up 25 percent in about two years and recently has had to scale back on protein in its food packages. Lately, the agency had no protein at all.
Meanwhile, the number of needy families continues to tick up, said Beth Fiorenza, TCAA's executive director.
"We see new people every day that haven't had to seek services before," she said. "Either loss of a job or unemployment have run out but there definitely are new people seeking services who haven't had to in the past."
The agency is organizing a food drive in September with assistance from local Rotary organizations and the East Valley Women's League.
However, the TCAA would prefer cash donations. It has the buying power to turn $1 into what is normally about $6 worth of food, Fiorenza said. A $100 donation will feed about 20 families for a week.
Food donations usually run low in August and September but this year has been especially difficult for protein, Fiorenza said. The agency is looking for food or cash to purchase meats, fish, nuts, peanut butter, beans and cereals.
"We usually have beans, whether dried or canned or however they're packaged. But (now) we're totally out of beans, which is a great protein source of course, if you're not a meat eater, so we try to keep those in stock," Fiorenza said.
The food pantry at the Escalante Community Center distributes 50-70 food boxes per day, Monday through Friday. A box holds a week's worth of food for a family of four.
The TCAA is looking for businesses that will accept a donation box for the September food drive. For information, go to www.tempeaction.org. To get a food donation box, call (480) 350-5879 or email email@example.com.