Troops from the National Guard hand out food boxes to those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic as Poison's "Nothin' But a Good Time" plays from a Bluetooth speaker on Monday, May 5 at Kino Veteran's Memorial Stadium located at 2500 E Ajo Way. Today is the first day of The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona's drive-thru service at the new location.
The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona's drive-thru food bank reopened today at its new location at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium to help serve a larger portion of the community faster and more efficiently.
"Because unemployment is so high, job loss is so high and people are being furloughed, people are strapped," said Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona CEO Michael McDonald. "It's been a long haul and so many people need food."
Troops from the National Guard quickly place boxes of produce, milk, bread, and other essential goods into people's vehicles while Poison's 80s anthem, "Nothin' But a Good Time", blasts from a Bluetooth speaker. The atmosphere at the new location felt more like a summer camp, warmer in spirit than one would expect considering the circumstances.
"It's larger, it's faster, we got a sufficient food supply, we got the National Guard, we got librarians from Pima County and lots of other volunteers and staff. We're getting through the line quickly," McDonald said. "It was a long line almost to the exit off the freeway at Kino earlier though."
National Guard troops have a conversation while opening boxes of milk during Monday's drive-thru food bank at Kino Stadium located at 2500 E Ajo Way. Today is the first day of The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona's drive-thru service at the new location.
The first cars began lining up at the stadium around 4 a.m., according to McDonald. By the time the food bank opened at 7 a.m. the line of vehicles waiting for food boxes had stretched down Ajo Way, McDonald said. Today, food bank volunteers were able to expedite service to the public and the line of cars was back to a reasonable level contained to the stadium's parking lot by 8 a.m.
At the food bank's former drive-thru location on Country Club Road, McDonald said they could serve about 800 vehicles in a three-hour period. However, traffic was constantly backing up on Country Club and a larger location was needed.
While the final vehicle count wasn't tallied by the time of our interview, McDonald said they were expecting to "go way past" the number of people typically served in previous weeks.
Troops place a food box and a sack of potatoes into the back of a truck during Monday's drive-thru food bank at Kino Veteran's Memorial Stadium located at 2500 E Ajo Way. Today is the first day of The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona's drive-thru service at the new location.
Another reason the community food bank chose to move drive-thru operations to Kino was largely due to the shade provided in the parking lot, said Norma Cable, public relations for Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. As temperatures rise past the century mark, more shade provided will allow more volunteers to continue helping those in need without being overexposed to the elements.
"The heat was a driving part (of the food bank's move to the stadium) because there's some shade here," Cable said. "We have seen some long lines and now we can handle a larger amount of people in a faster way so they can get in and out."
An empty box of government cheese awaits the recycle bin after troops hand out essential food items to those in need, on Monday, May 5 at Kino Veteran's Memorial Stadium located at 2500 E Ajo Way. Today is the first day of The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona's drive-thru service at the new location.
Rose Munoz and her mother were waiting to receive food in the early morning hours. It's Munoz's first time coming to the food bank, but her mother has been a few times since the pandemic started, she said. As a self-employed worker, money has been short since the pandemic hit and she's hoping this will get her through as she figures out her next move.
"I'm a little short on money and I need food," Munoz said while waiting in line. "Things have been rough because I'm self-employed and everything has stopped big time. But I'm figuring it out little by little."
The Community Foodbank of Southern Arizona's drive-thru service is on Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. For more information please contact the foodbank at https://www.communityfoodbank.org/