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ICS Food Bank celebrates Halloween and new expansion

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Interfaith Community Services

ICS Food Bank celebrates Halloween and new expansion

Costume-clad volunteers will celebrate Halloween and the opening of a newly renovated 2,700-square-foot food bank at Interfaith Community Services on Monday.

While they won't hand out candy, volunteers will offer juice and granola bars to children shopping at the food bank, 2820 W. Ina Rd., from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

ICS began construction on the food bank expansion July 2, to help fill an increase in need since the economic downturn. Since 2007, the number of people the ICS food bank helps has more than tripled.

"The new building not only enables us to serve more clients, it gives us the resources to serve them better," said Bonnie Kampa, executive director of the nonprofit ICS, in a news release.

With the addition, ICS can now supplement monthly food boxes, which contain mostly processed food, with fresh produce, eggs, and dairy products, according to the release.

According to the Food Research and Action Center, last year 29 percent of Arizona households with children had food insecurity, which is having limited or uncertain access to nutritionally adequate food. Arizona ties Louisiana for the seventh-worst food hardship rate for households with children.

The $500,000 project was paid for with grants from businesses and foundations, and more than 200 individual donors. 

In addition to more storage for non-perishable items, the facility also has a new walk-in freezer and refrigerator units to allow for distribution of fresh and frozen foods. 

Other improvements in the new facility include a client waiting room and two new vans for food drives and donation pick-ups.

Food bank facts

The new facility replaces ICS's previous tiny 400-square-foot food bank to 2,700 square feet.

In addition to significantly more storage space for non-perishable items, the facility has a new walk-in freezer and refrigerator unit to enable ICS to directly distribute fresh and frozen food to clients.

Other improvements include a client waiting room with a Kids' Corner, a pallet truck and racking, and two new vans to expedite food drives and donation pick-ups.

ICS supplied almost $900,000 in food assistance to 12,325 clients in fiscal year 2011.

The number of individuals served by the ICS food bank has more than tripled since 2007; in fiscal year 2011 the Food Bank experienced a 13% increase in demand for its services.

On average, ICS provides 1,000 food boxes and 12,000 supplemental items a month to individuals and families in need.

Recipients can receive one emergency food box per household per month; emergency food boxes are supplied to ICS from the Tucson Community Food Bank. ICS supplements the boxes by allowing clients to select a number of additional items supplied by community and business food drives and donations. An emergency food box lasts an average family only a few days.

The ICS food bank is open 6 days a week, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is one of the few food banks in the Tucson area open on Saturdays.

ICS is one of the only Tucson organizations that distributes holiday bags with all of the items for a traditional holiday meal. Last year ICS distributed approximately 1,500 holiday food bags.

In fiscal year 2011, the food bank was staffed by 80 volunteers who gave a total of 4,940 hours of their time.

The $500,000 expansion project was made possible by donations and grants from over 200 individuals, business and foundations. Lead support was provided through a $150,000 challenge grant from the Wolslager Foundation and a Pima County Community Development Block Grant. ICS is still hoping to raise $28,000 to complete interior furnishings for the building.

Hunger in Arizona and America

18.6% of Arizonans—almost one in five—lived in poverty in 2010. Arizona ties New Mexico for the fifth highest percentage of individuals living in poverty. (2010 Census data)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines the 2011 federal poverty level as a $22,350 annual income for a family of four. 23.5% of Tucsonans live at or below the federal poverty level (2010 Census data).

29% of Arizona households with children experienced food hardship in 2010, which is defined as not having enough money to buy needed food during the previous twelve months. Arizona ties Louisiana for the 7th worst food hardship rate for households with children in the country. (Food Research and Action Center report)

Tucson ranked in the top 25 cities nationally for food hardship in households with children, (27.7%). More than 1 in 4 children in America struggle with food hardship. . (Food Research and Action Center report)

The cost of hunger to Arizona in 2010 was nearly $4 billion dollars, a 35% increase over the previous year. The cost reflects impacts to healthcare, education, lost productivity, charitable expenses, and more; it does not count federal nutrition programs such as SNAP (Food Stamps). (Center for American Progress)

AARP reports that 8.6% of Arizonans 65 and older live in poverty, defined as $12,968 per couple. Nation-wide, one in three seniors are defined as "low-income", meaning they live on less than twice that amount. (Urban Institute)

Nearly 39% of agencies providing hunger relief services in Arizona in 2009 were faith-based. (Association of Arizona Food Banks)

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economy, food bank, hunger, poverty

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