Rolando Salazar, custodian at Larkspur Elementary School, and Tom Smith, PVEFB volunteer

Helping Our Neighbors - Paradise Valley Emergency Food Bank

Thursday , November 07 , 2019

Items in a weekend meal bag, PVEFB shelves of food, a food box, and Tom Smith with weekend meal bags for students

Since 1986, our neighbors at the Paradise Valley Emergency Food Bank (PVEFB) have been working diligently to provide well-balanced meals to the community residing in the PVSchools boundaries whose incomes fall below the poverty level. 

Throughout the years, PVEFB has expanded programs and services for children who attend PVSchools to include Weekend Food4Kids Backpack Program and the School Nurse Program. In turn, students at PV schools have held canned food drives to help support PVEFB’s community efforts. Furthermore, each year, PVSchools holds the Empty Bowls in Paradise event in which all proceeds from the event are donated to the PVEFB.  

“The Empty Bowls event is typically scheduled to coincide with the April School Board meeting. It’s a wonderful expression of the support from the PVSchools and overall community for the PV Emergency Food Bank.   Everyone is welcome to check out the art and take home some beauty while at the same time supporting the mission of the Food Bank,” said Barry Singer, PV Emergency Food Bank board member.

Weekend Food4Kids Backpack Program

In 2008, the PVEFB saw a need in the community to create a Weekend Food4Kids Backpack Program to help feed 100 students who attended Title I schools. These students receive breakfast and lunch at school during the week and may not have access to healthy, easy to make meals during the weekend. 

As the need to provide weekend meals to accommodate more students increased, the program was expanded. During the 2019-20 school year, this program will provide weekend meals for approximately 783 PV students, even though the organization has only budgeted to provide meals to 750 students. 

“With lots of thanks for lots of help from lots of people...School Social Workers/Volunteer Packing Team/Volunteer Drivers and other food bank volunteers along with financial support from foundations and service organizations who respond to our grant requests the food bank is pleased to be able to serve all requests for an ever-increasing number of participates in the Weekend For4Kids Program,” added Mary Sue and Larry Langford, board member and volunteers.

The food provided in the backpacks is intended to offer breakfast, lunch, and snack items to children for the weekend to replace the food provided by the school during the week. To put this into perspective, the budgeted “food only” cost for providing Weekend Food4Kids Backpack Program to one student for 34 weeks of the school year is $153.

In the last five years, including the 2019-20 school year, the PVEFB will have assembled more than 107,000 individual weekend food bags for 3,261 students. As the number of students who depend on this service grew larger, it became evident that the PVEFB needed to assist staff at the schools by delivering the food bags directly to the schools. 

Private funding fuels the Weekend Food4Kids Backpack Program. Since federal or local government funds or subsidies are not involved, the PVEFB relies on the generosity and support of local foundations and organizations. The past year, their supporters included American Family Insurance, APS Corporate Giving, Arizona Cardinals Charities, BHHS Legacy, Bess Spiva Timmons Foundation, Boeing Employees Community Fund, Cox Charities, Fiesta Bowl Foundation, Herbert H. & Barbara C. Dow Foundation, John F. Long Foundation, Kemper & Ethel Marley Foundation, ON Semiconductor Global Corporate Giving, Phoenix Suns Charities, Season for Sharing, Paradise Valley Rotary Club, and Sundt Foundation.

School Nurse Program

Additionally, PVEFB provides school nurses at 39 PV schools with juice and crackers that can be used when dispensing medicine to students during the school day or when students arrive at school hungry.  

“In 2015. the food bank became aware that school nurses were most times purchasing, with their own money, the juice, and crackers that were needed to dispense medicine and to feed a hungry child in the morning. In 2016, the food bank began offering juice and crackers to school nurses. Today, 39 PV schools have their supply of juice and crackers delivered to them twice a year by volunteers from the food bank. We are so appreciative of the general funds donated to support this worthy project,” said Kay Norris, PV Emergency Food Bank board member. 

School Food Drives

Throughout the school year, student councils at PV schools hold food drives to collect non-perishable items that are then donated to the PVEFB. During the 2018-19 school year,  PVSchools food drives accounted for more than 50,000 pounds of food, representing 35.6 percent of all food donations for the year.

“The PV Emergency Food Bank, for more than 30 years, has been a source of hope for those who are in need. Although the economy has improved for some Arizonans, that is not the case for all those we help. We know that hunger insecurity is ever-present and that our services continue to be in great demand. The support of the community, and in particular, PVSchools, enables us to continue our mission and to provide food for our neighbors when they are most in need,” added Regina Edwards, Ph.D., chairman of the board for the PV Emergency Food Bank.  

Need Assistance – Emergency Food Assist Program

For individuals and families who require assistance, the PVEFB provides wholesome and nourishing meals to those who reside within the boundaries of the PVSchools. Families with minor children living within the household needing assistance can receive up to eight food boxes per year, seniors (over 65 years old) can receive 12 boxes per year, and adults 18 years or older can receive four boxes per year.

During the last 5 years, the PVEFB has provided its neighbors with 56,199 emergency food assists, including 22,886 to children.

How To Get A Family Assist

  • Please make an appointment in advance by calling 602-867-9228. Walk-in clients are not accepted at this time.
  • You must provide the name, age, and birthdate for everyone receiving food. 
  • Required proof of residency within the PVSchools boundaries for all adults (18 years or older) in the household. Acceptable proofs of residence include: 
    • Postmarked mail no more than 60 days old with the name and address of each adult.
    • A lease agreement (one-time basis), which began within the last 60 days.
  • A picture ID is also required for the person who will receive the food. 
  • If you cannot provide any of this information, the PVEFB does accept referrals from school personnel, state or federal agencies, and clergy.

How You Can Help the PVEFB

There are a few ways in which you can help the emergency food bank, including donating non-perishable food items, volunteering, or making a monetary donation that qualifies for a tax credit. 

  • Non-perishable Food Donations – Food banks, including the PV Emergency Food Bank, rely on community members and organizations to provide donations throughout the year, not just during the holidays. In addition to canned food items, the PV Emergency Food Bank is also in need of hot and cold cereals, juices, dry milk, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, jelly, baby food, soap, toilet paper, diapers, and personal care items. View the list of items needed
     
  • Volunteer – You can help the PVEFB by volunteering. Volunteers help collect food and distribute food, stock shelves, and help answer the phone.
     
  • Monetary Donations – Monetary contributions help the PVEFB pay for rent, utility costs in addition to food items that are not donated. They accept checks or credit card payments through PayPal. When you make a monetary contribution, you are eligible for the Credit for Donations made to Qualifying Charitable Organizations.

Learn more about the Paradise Valley Emergency Food Bank.