Nourishing Mind, Body and Soul
Nonprofit provides food, clothes, employment help — and hope
Arturo Moreno, CPA
Origin: NourishPHX got its start when an interfaith coalition joined forces in the late 1960s. The Community Clothing Bank (the clothing arm of the original St. Mary’s Food and Clothing Bank), North Phoenix Corporate Ministries and the emergency assistance program running out of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral combined their community operations and dubbed the organization Interfaith Cooperative Ministries, or ICM.
ICM Food & Clothing Bank was incorporated as a nonprofit in the early 80’s and has been providing emergency services to those in need ever since. In 2019, ICM changed its name to NourishPHX to better describe the organization’s services, mission and goals — to “nourish” the mind, body and soul.
Known for: For years, NourishPHX was known as one of the largest food pantries in Central/South Phoenix, but the organization has grown in the last few years to include other services that not only meet people’s basic needs but provide a pathway out of poverty. For example, NourishPHX is working with the State of Arizona to provide job assistance to help anyone write a résumé, get interview clothes and apply for jobs.
Most surprising thing about the organization: The sheer size of its building in downtown Phoenix. NourishPHX owns a two-story warehouse recently adorned with a Lalo Cota mural on the entire front. “The mural really set the stage for our name change, new programs/services and partnerships. We think of ourselves as a community hub, and the more we can do to partner with other agencies and collaborate to bring people together is what we are all about,” said executive director Beth Fiorenza.
Program Highlight: SNAP to Work is a new program to help people get jobs. People who visit NourishPHX’s Job and Resource Center receive one-on-one training to use a computer, write a résumé, search and apply for jobs, obtain interview clothes, get transportation to and from interviews and be supported in their journey to finding employment. “Our goal is to work with employers and our customers to help find livable wages,” Fiorenza said. “For someone already on SNAP (food stamp) benefits, the program can also pay for skills training and obtaining a GED, among other things. We are excited to get the word out about the program and get more people enrolled to start their new journey in the new year!”
Financial Literacy: NourishPHX works with volunteers — all trained or already in the fields of banking or finance management — to provide Financial Literacy 101 workshops. These classes focus on the importance of creating a bank account and saving as well as more advanced aspects of investing. They also cover the dangers of payday lending and identity theft.
Challenges during COVID: NourishPHX operates with eight full-time employees and more than 75 volunteers each week. At the start of the pandemic, volunteers couldn’t come in, leaving staff to provide services with the help of the Arizona National Guard.
The Guard provided the people-power to keep NourishPHX running for nearly 18 months. Now, the organization is asking individual volunteers and corporate groups to come back and volunteer again.
“We started delivery of food boxes as well for those who could not make it to our food pantry, and have started working with 2-1-1 Arizona and DoorDash,” Fiorenza said. “Anyone without transportation can call 2-1-1 to receive a food box delivery and find the closest food bank near them.”
What they’re looking forward to: “I am so excited to provide in-person classes and go back to a bit of normalcy in the new year,” Fiorenza said. Among NourishPHX’s big plans: a social enterprise endeavor that will help diversify
the nonprofit’s budget and open the door to even more opportunities.
NourishPHX is also completing a first-floor renovation that will not only refresh the space but provide dignity and care to clients. “Our facility is a community space, and we want them to feel welcomed and empowered the moment they walk through our doors,” Fiorenza said
To learn more, go to nourishphx.org.