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CRC Continues Combating Crushing Covid Effects

It’s safe to say that everyone out there is sick of it, no pun intended. We’re weary of the depressing news stories, the tragic numbers, and all the other ways the virus has invaded our daily lives. Many of the most vulnerable in the community battle the lingering long-term side effects behind the headlines, so SFB-CRC keeps creating ways to help clients cope and get back on their feet.

“We are building on our past record and adding many new services,” Board President Penny Pestle said, pointing to the excitement everyone in the organization feels about the impending inaugural of the huge new building that will house programs to reach out to those who are struggling with a litany of unexpected struggles created by Covid.

People will require retraining to acquire skills that give them a fighting chance to replace jobs they lost because of shutdowns and business failures. Many are grappling with housing concerns as rental assistance expires and the cost of repairing or buying a home skyrockets. Working parents agonize over how to afford child care. Families face new inflationary fears as energy, grocery, and transportation prices fueled by supply chain stresses and stoppages keep cutting into budgets already strained. Stimulus and safety net programs have been suspended or cut. Low-income workers have less chance to generate enough earnings to pay bills and keep food on the table. Seniors with medical issues, many relying on fixed amounts each month, find themselves with new fears of contagion while trying to stretch what little they have to live on. Schools forced to turn to remote learning create unintentional inconsistencies in kids’ lives that place additional strain on struggling families.

The new facility is going to help SFB-CRC move forward faster in providing additional assistance to those who need it most. Twice monthly food bank visits allow families to free up much-needed money that can go toward rent, medicine, school clothing and supplies, and other household expenses. Clients can register on-site for economic safety net programs, and have access to referrals to trusted agencies that will address their concerns. There is free tax preparation that saves fees and assures lower-income credits are captured.

Together with community partners, the CRC workforce development programs will soon offer ESL, GED, and basic computer skills, along with training for retail jobs and career advancement, CNA and certified caregiver positions, line and prep cook jobs, medical caregivers as well as entrepreneurship skills for those with home-based food businesses.The pandemic lingers and the underlying effects continue to create roadblocks to meeting even the most basic needs for many of our neighbors, but with the new facility fully open just around the corner, the staff and volunteers of SFB-CRC are excited to refresh their commitment to provide every possible opportunity for them to better manage life’s challenges in these trying times.

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After six years of dreaming, planning, and fundraising, SFB-CRC has already taken that first big step into the new facility under a temporary certificate of occupancy. Pantries have been stocked and food items are collected from six grocery stores. We are also providing utility assistance, SNAP sign-up, and assistance in avoiding eviction. 300 households have been served in the first week of January and up to 400 BackPacks were distributed.
It’s been a challenging but extremely gratifying and rewarding journey and every day that passes moves us closer to finalizing our goal of becoming a major community resource for struggling families and individuals in our beloved community.


We’re Finally Inside

The dream began in 2015 when SFB-CRC decided to take the plunge to plan a multi-agency service center, a one-stop hub for helping those in need. After voters defeated county proposals for funding, we remained steadfast and began our own fundraising efforts with La Posada on board as our first large donor. Thanks to the generosity of countless individuals, businesses, and other organizations, we were able in 2019 to engage Poster Mirto McDonald as the architect and MW Morrissey and AIS as contractors. Based on the tremendous growth of families in need of our help, SFB-CRC expanded the footprint from 8,000 to 14,300 square feet, with designs finalized in the fall of 2020. Even though building costs nearly doubled to $4.7 million due to the pandemic and other factors, we continued to call on the community’s help and they continue to support us.

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Thanks to all who have donated, we have raised enough for the entire cost of our $4.7 million building! However, that included a construction loan of $450,000, which we have to pay back this August, and a mortgage of $550,000, payable over the next six years. If we had waited another year to begin construction so as to not have any loans, our costs would have gone up dramatically. Please help us pay for these obligations by donating at or sending a check to Sahuarita Food Bank at 17750 S. La Cañada Drive, Sahuarita, AZ 85629.

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Holiday Response Incredible

“We are blown away,” Executive Director Carlos Valles remarked when the numbers came in charting community support over the holidays. Sahuarita, Green Valley, and surrounding communities pulled together to provide 10.71 tons of food and $30,282 in cash donations.

“Our community wraps its arms around those who are in need,” he said. “How generous that is!”

Contributing groups included 6 schools, 7 churches, 6 first responders (with their own contest), 10 community organizations, 7 neighborhoods, 11 other organizations, and two collections by the Town of Sahuarita. The widow of Mark Svob, who was a much-loved Caterpillar Proving Ground employee, solicited donations in his memory, and Rancho Sahuarita’s Neighbor2Neighbor program always steps up, as their program seeks donations year-round for us, ensuring a steady flow of food items.

To the left is the complete list of groups who gave so much of themselves to help their neighbors in need over the 2021 holiday season.

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Dedicated Drivers

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SFB-CRC could not possibly do what we do without the dedication of five pairs of volunteer food rescue drivers who keep our shelves stocked while providing tax deductions for our generous local grocers because of the excess food they donate to us—a win-win.

These ten people rise early in the morning week after week to visit six stores in the area where they load up with safe and nutritious food items that we can get to the tables of hungry families instead of landfills.

Hathaway Cornelius is our senior food rescue volunteer (and former board president) with 13 years of service to us. Hathaway, retired from computer consulting, and Nancy Bowen, retired from the Federal Reserve and, for years teamed up in their own white van they call Beluga regularly visiting four stores. They now use our new spacious cargo van. Nancy loves spatial challenges, so she enjoys organizing the van. They keep doing this for the food bank because, as they humbly and perceptibly put it, “You can’t have a food bank without food!”

Taylor Hoskins and Dick Wheeler do Tuesday runs together. After 30 years with Fry’s/Kroger in Ohio, Taylor possesses invaluable knowledge and experience, already a mentor for us when it comes to food products. He enjoys working with his partner and keeping in shape lifting 30-40 pound food boxes. “It’s an easy fit, and I like giving back,” he said.

Dick was in sales and marketing for an orthopedic business and has done volunteer food rescue work for two years, along with a couple of days a week with the Fire Corps, and just recently started working with Taylor. Together they have already built a strong relationship with grocery employees, and Dick appreciates the person-to-person contact with people “in the back behind the doors.” They get lots of excellent produce from all the supermarkets, and he also likes staying fit with all the lifting. “SFB volunteers are older,” he noted, “but still work so hard.” He wishes the food bank could give even more since we live in a country with so many resources. “Nobody is going to a food bank unless they have to.


Retired professors of ornithology and environmental biology, Carol and David Vleck have been with us for eight years, picking up at all six stores on Thursdays, often making double runs. Then they dive in to help Sam McElwaine’s team in the kitchen, sorting to make sure our clients get the best possible produce. Avid birders, they devote a morning most every week to food rescue. “We need to make sure that our food bank visitors get the food they need,” they agreed. “It’s something we can do to give back.”


Forced to quit volunteering for Whipple Observatory in 2019 due to Covid, Steve Brown joined us later in that year, teaming up with his partner Bud Forman, who had already been driving for us for a while. Steve was an environmental manager and engineer for power plants in Ohio. Executive Director Carlos Valles put them together on Mondays visiting both Safeway stores, Sprouts, and Fry’s. Like all the others, they are committed to giving to their community. “It’s a need that’s out there,” Steve said, “and it’s not going away.


Our team of food rescue drivers is just another example of great people doing great things for folks they don’t even know. Their tireless efforts and sacrifices are what make SFB-CRC a principal resource center for those in our community who need a helping hand.

Another Way to Help Out

Just a reminder that you can help us anytime you shop Fry’s or Amazon.

Click the Fry’s graphic, log into your Fry’s account and find Sahuarita Food Bank or TQ827, click 2, then Enroll, and always swipe your Fry’s card each time you shop. Pick up a rewards card at Fry’s if you don’t have an account.

Amazon shoppers can click the Amazon Smile graphic below to sign up. Just click Get Started. Don’t forget to Google each time you shop.

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