Thu, April 02

<CENTER><B>Letters to the Editor</B></CENTER>

Valley generosity keeps food bank in business


This time last year, the Central Arizona Food Bank was experiencing some sizable problems. Our annual budget was depleted by the unforeseen demands on our services. Our bare shelves presented a frightening dilemma. We were actually in danger of being forced to close our doors in the face of the increasing need.

Then the community came to our rescue, as only the wonderful people of the Verde Valley can, and not only were our needs met, but we actually ended the year with a surplus, giving us a more comfortable margin of safety.

That same generous community support has continued to be adequate. We have neither the time nor the spare personnel to do fund and food drives, and the need continues to accelerate even more since Sept. 11.

We are regularly providing up to 200 families with emergency food weekly, and nearly 600 Food Plus boxes monthly to low-income seniors, children under 6 and new mothers who do not qualify for WIC. Also, up to 600 families make use of our perishable, casual, "pick up" food weekly.

Our local supermarkets, Safeway, Bashas', and Fry's, give super support. Other business donations, added to private individual donations, allow us to buy the fresh produce we need to augment the non-perishables, so that there is simply no need for a family of our neighbors to go hungry.

Our contributors appreciate the fact that of every dollar donated to the Central Arizona Food Bank, 100 cents are used to buy food. Not one penny is every used for overhead. Utilities and operating expenses are paid through other donations. Our fabulous 40-odd person volunteer staff requires no payroll spending. So, while we hear about the empty food banks nationwide and their diminishing support amidst the heightened demand for services, Central Arizona Food Bank offers a prayer of thanks that we are able to meet the growing local demand for our services.

This is thanks to the increasing generosity of our community, and the devotion and dedication of our staff of hard working volunteers, who have never received pay checks for all their long hours, working to give their very best effort, so the less fortunate in our community will have adequate food.

Thanks, Verde Valley! We greatly appreciate your confidence in our continuing dedication to serving our neighbors in this way.

Theo Norris

Central Arizona Food Bank

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