St. Mary's Food Bank In Need Of Volunteers To Keep Up With Demand

By Rocio Hernandez
Published: Tuesday, January 12, 2021 - 5:11pm
Updated: Tuesday, January 12, 2021 - 6:00pm

Edgar Milan places a pallet at the St. Mary
Bret Jaspers/KJZZ
Edgar Milan places a pallet at the St. Mary's Food Bank warehouse in Maryvale in 2017.

St. Mary’s Food Bank is looking for volunteers to help it keep up with the demand it's seeing due to the pandemic. Many volunteers have dropped off now that the holidays have passed, said spokesman Jerry Brown. 

The food bank needs about about 50 volunteers per shift to run two lines of box building. Right now, both the morning and afternoon shifts are averaging 20-30 people.

"The one thing we don't want to do is to have food on hand and not be able to hand it out in a timely manner because the food is not boxed," he said, adding that the food bank is serving as many as 1,000 families at day at its main locations in Phoenix and Surprise. 

Ever since the pandemic began, Brown said the food bank has struggled to find the volunteers it needs to serve families in need.

“We lost about 80% of the volunteers that we normally get, anything coming from companies, if there was a convention in town and folks would come over and do a service project here while they were staying at a hotel, all of that type of volunteer help has been wiped out," he said. 

The food bank has also lost some regular volunteers who are older and retired due to health and safety concerns during the pandemic, Brown adds.

“It makes perfect sense that they would want to stay home. It’s the right thing to do," he said. "Some of them have come back to help anyway because we have worked very hard to make sure that it’s a very safe environment.” 

All volunteers are masked and gloved, and work six feet apart on the boxing lines, Brown said. They all have their temperatures checked before entering the volunteering area.

The food bank has 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. morning and afternoon shifts that run about 90 minutes to two hours Tuesday through Friday. Volunteers need to be at least 12 years old to participate, Brown said. 

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