Food Coalition seeks input from food bank users

Volunteers sort through nonperishable food items donated to Our Neighbor's Farm and Pantry by area school children during the 2020 Double R Communications annual School Food Drive. - David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

SAFFORD — The Gila Valley Food Coalition is working with producers and distributors on ways to make it easier for every household to get healthy foods.

To help in that effort, the call is going out for input from those who have needed a little help now and then.

“We want to get a committee together of people who have actually used our pantry or other pantries, so that we can better understand what the root causes are for people that are here,” said Stacey Scarce, executive director for Our Neighbor’s Farm and Pantry.

With that data, Scarce said, it’s hoped that the issues causing people to need food pantry assistance can be lessened, thereby reducing the demand on the area food pantries.

Those who receive assistance from Our Neighbor’s Farm and Pantry are limited to one visit per month and Scarce said most visit the pantry only once or twice a year.

Scarce added that local pantries have been impacted by the pandemic’s effect on local grocery stores. The local pantries are supported by the grocery stores via donations of excess perishable items — produce, milk, meat, bread, etc. — but there have been fewer of those donations due to stores having reduced restocks of shelves.