The LeChe’e Chapter and St. Mary’s Food Bank distributed food to the community on November 28. With high demand for food, cars were lined up around the block and along Navajo Route 20 in LeChe’e, Arizona near Page.
Left to right, photos by Phil Clark:
Renee, Chapter Manager, thanks a volunteer at the food distribution.
Cars line up along Navajo Route 20 waiting their turn to receive food.
Each household received a box of food, with such items as fresh produce, bread and canned goods. Normally the food drive is the last Monday of each month. This month, according to one of the volunteers, the truck had mechanical problems and was delayed. From 12 - 3 p.m., food was distributed to those in need, until it ran out. Cars were marked with a red marker, each mark representing a household. Each household received a box of food so some cars had one mark, while others had two.
The Chapter partners with St. Mary’s Food Bank of Arizona. According to St. Mary’s Food Bank website, the Bank is the first food bank in the world, having been established in 1967 by John Van Hengel. While volunteering in a soup kitchen, a young mother told him that she depends on soup kitchens and food discarded by grocery stores in the trash to feed her family. So moved by that woman’s honesty and need, he decided he had to help. According to the food bank’s website “[Van Hengel’s] conversation with the young woman ignited a desire to help hungry families like hers, so he came up with the idea of a “Food Bank,” where individuals and companies with excess food could “deposit” it, and those in need could “withdraw” it.”
St. Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix gave Van Hengel $3,000 and an abandoned building. From that humble beginning, St. Mary’s Food Bank was born. Van Hengle named the food bank St. Mary’s in honor of the Basilica, a name that continues to this day, some 56 years later. According to the Arizona Historical Society, St. Mary’s Food Bank is the first food bank in the world. From that modest beginning, Van Hengle founded several food banks across the county, and “America’s Second Harvest”, now known “Feeding America”. In later years, van Hengel founded the Global Food Banking Network.
St. Mary’s helps nine out of Arizona’s fifteen counties, including Page and LeChe’e, both in Coconino County. The Food bank not only distributes food to the needy, but they also offer programs in Children’s Feeding where hungry children get fed with the School Pantry and Backpack programs, Community Kitchen which “teaches adults with barriers to employment to be successful in the food service industry”, and Lift, which “teaches adults with barriers to employment to be successful in the warehouse and logistics industry.”
Many volunteers were on hand to help organize and prepare to distribute the food. The Chapter can always use volunteers on distribution day. For those interested in helping, contact the LeChe’e Chapter at (928) 698-2805. Information about St. Mary’s Food Bank and how to volunteer or donate can be found at: firstfoodbank.org/. Arizona taxpayers can receive a one for one tax credit for each dollar donated, with tax credit amounts increased this year. It seems the need for food continues to increase.