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'Arizona Brainfood' aims to provide nutritional meals for students to take home

Posted at 1:31 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 06:36:44-05

MESA, AZ — A non-profit started by a mom in the east Valley is making sure no child goes hungry.

Ruth Collins says she started Arizona Brainfood after finding out from a teacher that some children were coming to school on Monday hungry and unable to focus because they didn't have enough to eat over the weekend.

She got together some friends, a lot of them moms like her, and started collecting food. More than 10 years later, they're still going strong.

“We’ve just been raising our children, going to school, doing all of those things and once you start looking, there’s a need everywhere,” said Karen Zaharis, the director of operations for Arizona Brainfood.

Zarahis has been with the group since the very beginning and has watched what started out small, grow into something much larger.

At the group's warehouse, every Thursday, volunteers pack over 2,000 bags of food. They load up the food into containers and map out 125 schools across the east Valley. Trucks labeled with the names of those schools come to pick up the bags. Certain school administrators are tasked with making sure the students who need it, receive the food.

“I bring a child in, talk to them, let them know I’ve spoken with their parents and their teacher knows. I will show them an example of a food bag and oh my gosh their eyes light up," said Lori Scott, family support specialist at Porter Elementary School. "They’re so excited to take these treats home. I have to tell them that we need to wait, it’s food for the weekend, that they’re supposed to be taking it home. But what's exciting is not only do they have that immediate reaction, but their teachers often talk about the difference that it makes for them in the classroom.”

"We are huge believers of doing what you can, where you are with what you have,” said Zaharis.

For more information on how to help, click here.