Apache Junction Food Bank in community nearly 35 years

Editor’s note: The Apache Junction/Gold Canyon Independent e-mailed more than a dozen local nonprofits a list of questions. This is from the Apache Junction Food Bank.

Working in tandem with United Food Bank and Feeding America, our nonprofit provides three to five days worth of food to local families once a month who need that extra help to feed their families. We also refer them to other services.

The Apache Junction Food Bank incorporated in 1983 as the AJ Reach Out organization with a mission to feed the hungry in the area. Nearly 35 years later, the mission has remained unchanged. It is to feed the hungry in the east Valley with dignity and respect.
Volunteers are the pillar of the nonprofit and have been through our entire history. This year, we have 110 active volunteers who will have donated an astounding 13,000 hours this year.

Our clients come from the inside boundaries of our service area – McDowell Road on the north, Ocotillo on the south, Queen Valley on the east and Ellsworth Road on the west.

We are open to care for our clients 2-4 p.m. four days a week – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. We are open for donations or food or money 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. those same days, closed for lunch.

We provide about three to five days worth of food to qualifying families each month. It is about 25 pounds of food per person. We give out the TEFAP food and then are very, very fortunate to work with 13 big grocers from Walmart and Costco to Fry’s and Safeway to get food every morning that goes to families who can use it soon. A lot of our items are given to us “by sell by dates” or are non-perishable. Not all of it is completely fresh, but we do our best to get bakery, deli, meat, produce and other items out the door immediately so that families can use the items or freeze things.

What is your website and contact information?: 575 N. Idaho Road No. 701, Apache Junction, AZ 85119; 480-983-2995; www.ajfoodbank.org.

What did members accomplish in 2017?: Volunteers and staff worked together to feed nearly 40,000 East Valley residents.

Did membership increase in 2017? Why or why not?: Just senior market. By the end of December we will have served 13,300 homes, a majority of which are in Apache Junction. A total of 6,500 of the total expected (39,000 people) are seniors and 12,000 are children.
What is your goal for 2018?: Internally it is to find funding. We will have a couple of significant changes in income this coming year and we will be looking for grants and partnerships like never before. Just meeting the need next year will take a full court press on ways to fund the organization – less of 10 percent of that for staff. Most of our donations provide direct dollars to food for the hungry families.

What needs does the group have for 2018?: More morning volunteers and more board members; and more means to create donations and funding.

Editor’s note: JoElle Hurns is the Apache Junction Food Bank’s executive director.

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