“Driven to Assist” campaign to help restock depleted food banks in Phoenix and Tucson.
With spring school closures limiting the availability of free and reduced meal programs for children and more people facing unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been an increase in the number of Arizona families facing food insecurity. Larry H. Miller Dealerships announced today a commitment to helping Arizona children and families fill the gap and receive the food they need during this crisis with the “Driven to Assist” campaign, a two-week food drive to support St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona in Tucson.
By the end of the food drive, LHM Dealerships delivered 6,357 pounds of food to St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix and 1,640 pounds of food to Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona in Tucson. In total, the donations from employees and members of the public will provide 7,723 meals to individuals and families in Arizona who are facing food insecurity.
“We know the pandemic is causing additional stress and forcing more families into food insecurity, so we’re rallying our dealership employees and inviting the public and other local businesses to join us in collecting food for those in need at the most fundamental level,” said Pat Kroneberger, senior vice president of operations, Larry H. Miller Dealerships.
From July 20-31, Larry H. Miller Dealerships encouraged its employees and the public to help fill a vehicle in each of its 13 dealerships across Metro Phoenix and Tucson with nonperishable food items. Some of the most needed items are peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables, canned meats (tuna, chicken, and beef) and bottled water. To ensure the safety of employees and community members, all dealerships are following recommended health and safety guidelines, including increased cleaning and disinfecting, employees wearing masks and social distancing.
COVID-19 has greatly affected the communities served by both food banks. In March, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona saw a spike of more than 4,000 new households registering for first-time food assistance and the organization is still seeing a significant increase in families in need of one of its food assistance programs. Summer is always the most difficult time of the year, even during normal times at St. Mary’s Food Bank. This year, however, the food bank has expended more than 30 million pounds of food during the first wave of COVID-19.
“While we’ve had enough food to feed families so far, if we experience another period of high demand, we’ll be hard-pressed to provide the same amount of food assistance,” said Jerry Brown, director of public relations, St. Mary’s Food Bank. “The Driven to Assist campaign is happening at an ideal time. We’re bracing for another rush as a result of the current COVID-19 surge in Arizona, and we’re glad to have a community partner to help us through the urgency we’re continuing to see.”
Donations to St. Mary’s Food Bank will go towards their Backpack Program, which helps sustain children with meals when they’re not able to access school meal programs, as well as their general food bank. Donations to Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona will go towards their children’s food pantry and their general food bank distribution.
“We’ve never seen a demand as great as this one,” said Michael McDonald, CEO of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. “The pandemic is creating waves of instability through our communities. Many families have lost income, children are without the structure of school, and there’s a lot of uncertainty about what lies ahead. Our goal through this partnership with Larry H. Miller Dealerships is to build back hope in our communities, and we’re doing that through hunger relief.”