Get it done!

Jan Troop, left, a six-year volunteer with the Community Food Bank in Green Valley and Vicki Turner, the food bank's community project coordinator, saw record crowds Tuesday.

With Thanksgiving just two days away, the parking lot at the Community Food Bank of Green Valley was packed and cars were lining the street waiting to squeeze in Tuesday.

The food bank was only open an hour and it looked like the crowd was going to break a record, said Lilia Dawson, client services volunteer coordinator.

The food bank normally averages about 200 families just before Thanksgiving, Dawson said. After about an hour of being open, the food bank already had 100 families either served, gathering food or waiting to check-in.

"So we're probably going to pass that," she said. "We don't have enough parking and the only (other) staff member we have here today is in the parking lot."

Dawson said the increase in clients is happening at the same time donations are decreasing.

"This year has been our slowest donation receipt year,"  Dawson said. "Regularly, we receive quite a bit, and in 2019 the food is going out faster than it's coming in."

Despite the shortage, Vicki Turner, the food bank's community project coordinator, said no one leaves the food bank empty-handed. 

Each family receives about 65 to 70 pounds of food when they visit, but the amount can change based on what food is in stock and how much can be distributed, Dawson said.

Part of the reason for the shortage can be tied to a dip in donations from local grocery stores, Dawson said. 

"I'm guessing they're baking less bread or ordering less," Dawson said.

With stores having fewer leftovers in the bakery and fewer items left on the shelves, it has caused smaller shipments to the food banks, she said.

It's not all bad news, though.

Turner said the Safeway on Continental Road raised enough money through "Turkey Bucks" donations at the register to provide the food bank with 108 complete meals to distribute.

The food bank divided the meals with their other location in Amado.

"Everything that comes in here we share with Amado," Turner said.

The food bank serves all of Southern Arizona and is not limited to Green Valley or the Amado area. While there are people who might come from as far away as Bisbee, the organization primarily receives people from Southern Tucson and the Santa Cruz Valley region, Dawson said.

Dawson said unfortunately, a lot of people think of the food bank when the holidays roll around, but the need exists year-round.

Turner agreed.

"Keep doing that food drive in January," she said.

Jorge Encinas | 520-547-9732

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