Local food bank struggles to meet bird needs - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Local food bank struggles to meet bird needs

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Posted: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 11:32 am | Updated: 10:53 am, Wed Jun 6, 2012.

The rising price of turkeys and other products have hit food banks hard and there’s not much time left for them to stock up for Thanksgiving.

Nowhere is that more the case than at the Valley View Community Food Bank in Youngtown. The organization only has 26 turkeys for its annual holiday food box program, which it plans to offer Monday and Tuesday if there are enough supplies.

Jesse Ramirez, the food bank’s executive director, said Valley View needs at least 200 turkeys, and he is unsure if that goal will be attained.

“With what we have now, we’re not even sure we are going to fill the first day,” Ramirez said. “We’re really hurting and hoping that we can feed the families we serve.”

In addition, Ramirez said the food bank’s shelves are nearly empty, leaving a lack of side items for the holiday table.

Ramirez said he attributes a portion of low donations to the increase in prices for turkeys and other foods. The cost of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner this year is up $5.82 this year to $49.99, according to a state survey.

Jerry Brown, a spokesman for St. Mary’s Food Bank, said the prices could be a major factor in low donations around the Valley at various food banks.

Brown said he’ll know after this weekend during the food bank’s annual “Super Saturday,” which includes turkey drives in Surprise at St. Mary’s Westside facility, 13050 W. Elm St. and Albertsons, 16750 W. Bell Road, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We understand that a lot of organizations are asking for turkeys and food around this time,” Brown said. “Everyone only has a certain amount and that can be tough.”

St. Mary’s goal is 14,000 turkeys Valleywide, and Brown said the organization is at approximately 8,000 birds.

Various turkey drives sponsored by other food banks also have hurt donations for Valley View, Ramirez said.

“Many other organizations were asked early to help with drives for other food banks,” he said. “So they beat us to the punch before we could get started.”

The Youngtown food bank, normally feeds more than 200 families in the area with its holiday food box program. “I know how tough it is when you have to think about your family first, then buy an extra turkey for someone else. That can be costly,” Ramirez said.

Valley View Community Food Bank, 11115 W. Nevada Ave., is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and is open for donations on Saturdays. Information: 623-933-3358.

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