MESA, AZ - Many people helped "feed the need" during United Food Bank's "Christmas in July" food drive which helps carry them through to the holidays when community giving is at its best.
But inside its Mesa warehouse the supply is already sparse just a month later and the non-profit is in desperate need of help.
Snowbirds who typically give a lot have left town and the rest of the community isn't stepping up.
Jayson Matthews, Chief Development Officer for United Food Bank, says there are rows of empty shelves in the warehouse right now and every empty space is an empty belly. He says it's a senior citizen going hungry, a single who's moved to Arizona and can't find work, or it's a child who's not getting enough to eat at home.
"If you're a child and your tummy is grumbling how are you really supposed to concentrate on what the teacher is saying?" Matthews asks.
The food bank supports 260 agencies in five counties, so when the warehouse is thin on supplies Matthews says so are the orders it's filling. And it's dipping into donations to do its own shopping.
"When we say we can't provide that because we don't have that available, it breaks our heart," Matthews says.
Charity Miller is 30 years old and homeless. An accident two years ago broke most of her bones. Rebuilding her life around a stack of medical bills has been tough. Her car is the only thing that keeps her out of the heat.
When the supply to the food pantry she visits in Mesa is well stocked, she says she eats well, listing deli sandwiches and steak as her favorites. When supplies are thin she also notices a difference in what ends up on her plate.
"A lot of it is bread and water, which is really sad," Miller said. "I used to live on that kind of stuff."
She's not sure the community realizes how many people depend on them to donate so they can survive.
"This is a place where we can get food and nutrients so we can get to work each day and get back on our feet," Miller said.
There are three ways you can help right now:
- Contact United Food Bank and get help hosting a food drive by calling 480-926-4897
- Fill up your own food box and deliver it to the Mesa warehouse located at 245 S Nina Drive. High protein items like peanut butter, beans and chili, canned meats and pastas are always best
- Donate online at unitedfoodbank.org . Every dollar buys five meals, $5 feeds a family for a weekend.