SaddleBrooke Sunrise Rotary focuses on Tri-Community Food Bank

Tri-Community Food Bank Director Cynthia Chevalley and Rotary President Dick Kroese.

Patti Albaugh

A young boy gives the volunteer a hug because he finally has his own toothbrush. A father weeps when he’s told he doesn’t need to eat the stale bread left outside for the birds; he can have a fresh loaf of bread for him and his son. A six-year-old girl cries when she sees her birthday cake—she had never had one before. A can of SPAM, looked down upon by many of us, is a welcome source of protein for hungry households. Chronic poverty is complicated and food is a primary need. SaddleBrooke Sunrise Rotary Club takes seriously the motto “service above self” and members devote energy and resources to the Tri-Community Food Bank.

Cynthia Chevalley, director of the Tri-Community Food Bank in Mammoth, thanked SaddleBrooke Sunrise Rotarians for their contributions of time and money to the problem of hunger in the region. The need is critical, says Chevalley. Where hunger affects one in six children in the United States, one in three children are hungry in the communities of San Manuel, Mammoth, Aravaipa and Oracle. The Tri-Community Food Bank provides emergency food boxes to over 3,518 households with 10,816 people. There are also increasing numbers of seniors who lack sufficient food. The food boxes provide about three days of food for a family each month. Additionally, utilities/rent assistance and holiday programs are provided. Tri-Community Food Bank is an entirely volunteer run organization.

How do the Rotarians help? SaddleBrooke Sunrise Rotarians gather 60 pounds of produce for $12 each at monthly POWWOWs (Produce on Wheels Without Waste) operated by Borderlands Produce Rescue throughout southern Arizona and New Mexico during nine months of the year. Produce that would normally be sent to landfills are trucked to Nogales, AZ, warehoused and sorted for distribution to communities. Most of the food comes from Mexican farmers. The Rotarians then load their contributions onto a truck (or their cars) headed to the Tri-Community Food Bank. In addition, able-bodied members (given our ages, able-bodied is a relative term), help unload food and produce at the food bank in Mammoth three times a month. SaddleBrooke Sunrise also ran a year-long project called Protein for Growing Minds, collecting jars of peanut butter and other protein for the food bank. Over 180 pounds of protein were collected and given to the foodbank. Sunrise members also volunteer at the food drive by helping unload cars and sort donated food that is then delivered to the food bank. Finally, many SaddleBrooke Sunrise members participate in the Tri-Community Adopt-A-Family program at Christmas.

Food is not a luxury, reiterated Chevalley. SaddleBrooke Sunrise Rotary Club is proud to be doing its part in alleviating hunger in local communities. If you have questions about the Tri-Community Food Bank, call Cynthia Chevalley at 520-487-2010. If you would like to help with this project and others as a Rotarian, call membership chairman Ron Lenz at 262-358-0130.