United Food Bank has served the East Valley and parts of Eastern Arizona since 1983. It has formed a partnership with Feeding America — a network of some 200 food banks across the country that connect with major food companies to provide food to those who need it. UFB alone serves 51,000 people every day.
But UFB has faced turbulent times as of late. When former CEO Bob Evans retired after approximately 11 years, the board of directors brought on Lisa Pino, an ASU law grad who had served in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She stayed for three months before leaving due to personal reasons.
“We had a nice fit, but we found that we had different styles that weren’t going to mesh going forward. It was a mutual understanding.” said Bill Warren, board of directors chair.
Ginny Hildebrand has filled in as the interim CEO. She said the board hopes to begin taking applications for the position toward the end of summer and to fill the position in late fall or early winter.
She is something of an authority on food banks, having served as the president of the Arizona Association of Food Banks from the mid 1980s until June 2013.
“She was instrumental in, basically, getting this place off the ground,” said Brian Simpson, AAFB director of communications.
Struggle is not something Hildebrand or the food bank would balk at: Even while serving the thousands of people in need each day, she said the food bank is doing just fine.
“We have a solid financial base. The food reserves are getting out to agencies as they normally would,” said Hildebrand. “We’re looking at a strong end to the year [June 30th] ... on track to distribute about 24 million pounds of food.”
Warren said the bank has made strides even with the setback in leadership.
“First we wanted to stabilize; make sure that we have our structure sound. During that same time period, we had noticed some things that we could fix,” said Warren, commenting on progress during Hildebrand’s tenure. “She is on board and already identifying places to improve. I think we have a bright future ahead of us.”
Hildebrand added UFB is expecting, soon, to receive a report from Feeding America — the leading hunger-relief charity in America that issues this particular report every four years — detailing the progress and status of food banks around the country. She said the food bank looks forward to seeing that information and sharing it with the community.
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