History of St. Mary’s Food Bank
St. Mary’s Food Bank was founded in 1967 by John van Hengel, a retired businessman who was inspired to start the organization after he met a mother who was trying to feed her children with food she had scavenged from supermarket dumpsters. Van Hengel realized that there was a significant amount of food being wasted by grocery stores and restaurants, and he began to collect that food and distribute it to those in need.
In the early days, St. Mary’s Food Bank was run entirely by volunteers and operated out of a small church in downtown Phoenix. Over time, the organization grew and expanded its operations, and today it is one of the largest food banks in the United States.
Impact on the Community
Since its founding, St. Mary’s Food Bank has had a tremendous impact on the community in Phoenix and the surrounding areas. In 2020 alone, the organization distributed over 97 million pounds of food to people in need, which is the equivalent of over 80 million meals.
The food bank serves a wide range of people, including families with children, seniors, and individuals experiencing homelessness. Many of the people who receive assistance from St. Mary’s Food Bank are facing difficult circumstances such as job loss, illness, or disability. The organization’s goal is to provide not only food assistance, but also a sense of hope and support to those in need.
In addition to providing direct food assistance, St. Mary’s Food Bank also works to address the root causes of hunger and poverty. The organization advocates for policies and programs that support low-income families and individuals, and it works to raise awareness about hunger and its impact on the community.
The Surprise Location
While St. Mary’s Food Bank has been providing food assistance to those in need for many years, the organization recognized that there were still many people who were unable to access their main location. To address this issue, they came up with the idea of the surprise location, which is a mobile food bank that travels to different neighborhoods throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area.
The surprise location has been a tremendous success, allowing St. Mary’s Food Bank to reach people who might not otherwise have access to food assistance. The mobile food bank is stocked with a variety of items, including fresh produce, dairy products, canned goods, and other non-perishable items. People who visit the surprise location are able to choose the items they need, just as they would at a regular grocery store.
Serving a Wide Range of People
One of the great things about the surprise location is that it is able to serve a wide range of people in need. Whether someone is experiencing temporary financial hardship or they are facing more long-term challenges, they are welcome to visit the mobile food bank and receive assistance.
The surprise location also serves seniors, families with children, and individuals experiencing homelessness. For many people, the mobile food bank is a lifeline, providing them with the food they need to get through difficult times.
Providing Additional Services
In addition to providing food assistance, the surprise location also serves as a hub for other important services. For example, visitors can receive information about health care services, job training programs, and other resources that can help them improve their lives. The mobile food bank is truly a one-stop shop for those in need.
St. Mary’s Food Bank has also partnered with other organizations to provide additional services at the surprise location. For example, they have partnered with a local health clinic to offer free