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State Invests Nearly $1 Million In Food Banks To Help Distribute Healthy Food
The Association of Arizona Food Banks (AAFB) and its members appreciate a one-time $950,000 appropriation for the statewide food bank network included in the budget passed by the Arizona State Legislature and signed by Governor Ducey this week. This money is critical to safely store and swiftly distribute an increasing volume of perishable foods to Arizonans facing hunger.
In the past year, the statewide emergency food network distributed 185 million pounds of food to working families, older adults, and other clients in need; this translates to roughly 150 million meals. The network also received an additional 689 truckloads of food through the USDA’s new Food Purchase and Distribution Program, which is a part of the Administration’s short-term trade mitigation package to provide temporary relief to American farmers and producers who are unable to sell their products overseas during the ongoing trade disputes.
“Our food banks have been grateful for the high-quality foods coming from the USDA trade mitigation efforts because, with higher prices, our clients don’t often have access to these items,” said AAFB President and CEO Angie Rodgers. “But the amount of food stretches our network beyond capacity. Without these additional resources from the state, we run out of cooler space to store all the milk, pork, and other perishables we’re getting.” In addition to funding hard infrastructure, resources will be used to support “mobile pantries” that supply hard-to-reach areas as well as food safety measures.
On May 23, the USDA announced that its trade mitigation efforts would continue in fiscal year 2020 and include an even higher volume of food purchases to be distributed through food banks, schools, and other outlets serving working families and low-income individuals. This means an even higher volume of perishable items are headed to Arizona’s food banks, along with an even greater need for support.
“Last year, our network served about 450,000 people across the state each month,” said Rodgers. “Finding a way to get all this healthy food on their tables is a good problem to have.”