What is the United Food Bank?
United Food Bank is a 501(c) 3 private nonprofit organization that provides access to nutritious food through community partnerships, food distribution and education in the greater East Valley and Eastern Arizona. As a Regional Food Bank, United Food Bank distributes millions of pounds of food every year, the equivalent of more than 43,000 meals every day to people in need.
Where does the food come from?
United Food Bank receives food from many different sources. Food is donated by individuals and groups, local businesses and grocery stores, as well from larger national food distribution centers with the help of our Feeding America affiliation. We also receive USDA commodities called TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program). In addition, food is donated through the Arizona Gleaning Project, which provides United Food Bank with fresh produce from local farms. United Food Bank also purchases a significant amount of food on our own, through monetary donations and specialized corporate grants.
Where does the food go?
United Food Bank distributes food to over 250 partner social services agencies in our service area for use in their food assistance programs. Our partner agencies consist of food pantries, soup kitchens, mobile pantries, shelters, rehab facilities, children’s programs, senior centers, and more. In most cases, United Food Bank is the primary, if not sole, provider of food to these agencies.
In addition to providing food to partner agencies, United Food Bank has five other programs that feed the hungry in the East Valley and Eastern Arizona. These include Kids Cafés, the Backpack Program, Helping Hands, Help Yourself, Food for Thought, and a new pilot program, School Pantries. For more information on these programs, visit the “Programs” page on our website. (link to programs page)
Does the food bank work directly with people in need?
United Food Bank is a Regional Food Bank Warehouse and distribution center and does not provide direct client service, with the exception of our Help Yourself program. We receive large quantities of food through local and national partnerships and serve as the liaison between these food providers and our partner agencies that get it directly into the hands of those who need it.
Does the food bank take other donations besides food?
While we deal mainly with food donations, United Food Bank will accept other donations such as clothes, personal care products, paper products, etc. We offer these items to our partner agencies that are able to use them.
Does United Food Bank sell food?
United Food Bank does not sell food. Food is distributed to our registered partner agencies that may pay a nominal per pound fee that helps defray a small portion of the handling, storage and transportation costs, but do not pay anything for the food. Many foods like perishables, USDA commodities, etc. carry no fee whatsoever. United Food Bank also operates a self-help purchase food program for clients that want to stretch their food dollars called Help Yourself. United Food Bank purchases staples, meats, fresh produce, and nonperishable items in large quantities and passes these savings along to our customers. None of the food that clients purchase is donated food.
What does United Food Bank need more – money or food?
Both. Food donations (whether through individuals or food drives) account for much of the food that we provide to our agencies. However, we also need monetary donations for operational expenses and to help with needed food purchases. Because of our operating efficiencies, partnerships and donations, we are able to stretch $1 into close to $10-worth of food, or 4.5 meals.
How much food can United Food Bank accommodate?
Our 42,000 square foot warehouse includes a 22,000 cubic foot freezer and 24,000 cubic foot refrigerator- enabling us to accept almost any size donation- whether it’s fresh, frozen, or dry. Philosophically, we do not want to store food. Food that is sitting in our warehouse is not feeding the hungry.
Does United Food Bank have enough food to meet the need?
No. On average, United Food Bank is able to fill around 75% of our partner agencies’ requests. This can vary depending on the time of year. While the need doesn’t change – it’s always increasing, donations do fluctuate. More people donate during the holiday season, because it is seen as a time of giving; while donations go down during summer months.