With homelessness and hard times on the rise, Tempe residents recently stepped forward and donated thousands of pounds of food during a span of just a few hours to help people—and pets—in need.
Tempe Neighborhoods Together organized the drive to benefit Tempe Community Action Agency, the Aris Foundation and Saving One Life.
The food drive marked the first time that TNT has taken on hunger. In the past, it has addressed park improvement, code enforcement and development, among other issues.
“A huge concern was the condition of food insecurity in the community with homeless numbers on the rise and the 96 percent increase in homelessness in Tempe in just three years,” said Judy Tapscott, a TNT food-drive planning-committee member.
“TCAA has experienced a huge increase in the number of people they distribute food boxes to. People are coming in for the very first time. They’re very ashamed but they really need support. They’ve lost their employment. People are struggling.”
Deborah Arteaga, executive director of TCAA, said her staff was at the food drive and transported TCAA’s share of food donations to the organization’s pantry.
“TCAA’s food pantry is currently serving close to 100 people each day, and community food drives are essential to ensuring we have enough food to meet the need,” Arteaga said. “This event provided TCAA with enough food for more than 4,500 meals for seniors, adults and children in Tempe.”
Cars began lining up in the parking lot at the Pyle Recreation Center well before the food drive’s start time in order to drop off donations of non-perishable food or monetary contributions.
“It was a steady stream of cars,” Tapscott said. “There were people continuing to come when we were closing up a little after 4. It was a huge response.”
Donors brought “everything you can imagine. It was a shocking variety of things,” Tapscott added.
Tempe Mayor Corey Woods and City Councilmembers Doreen Garlid and Lauren Kuby volunteered at the drive alongside others.
TCAA received 5,400 pounds of food. Aris Foundation, which is dedicated to serving the homeless, received more than 1,000 pounds of food. Animal rescue and sanctuary organization Saving One Life scored 800 pounds of dry food and 10 cases of wet food for its furry clients.
“We’re so grateful for the food drive outcomes,” Arteaga said.
Information or to volunteer: tempeaction.org.