The Community food bank is ready to offer members of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community a hand up. SRPMIC Food Program Coordinator Brandon Boatman said the assistance provided to those in need is a great resource, with more than 400 families participating in the program from both Salt River and Lehi.
To qualify to receive food from the Food Program, applicants must earn less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which for a household of four is $3,400 per month. Only enrolled Community members residing within the Community boundaries are eligible to apply.
The Food Program has several different ways for families in need to receive food assistance. “Our weekly bread distribution is every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Boatman said. “From 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., elders, seniors and the disabled can attend, while everyone else is welcome to come from 1 to 3 p.m.” Boatman said participants get a small box filled with whatever the food bank receives in breads, pastries and other bread items they have that particular day.
There are also emergency food boxes available through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which people can only qualify for every 15 days.
“The emergency food boxes are not meant to be a permanent solution, and you have to recertify every six months through an application process,” Boatman said. “We keep track here and give enough to last for three to five days, depending on [the number of people in] their household.”
Boatman said on Tuesdays (which is bread day) they have a sign-in sheet and participants know exactly when their certification will expire.
Nutrition education is an important part of the Food Program. On the fourth Tuesday of the month, Boatman teaches a class from 12 to 1 p.m., and lunch is provided. She shows people how to prepare meals using the emergency food boxes, explains how to read food labels and gives tips for buying food on a budget.
“I make lunch with whatever we have in commodities, and nearly 90 percent of the time everything [comes from] our shelves, so people can see what to make with whatever comes out of their box,” she said. The classes are free and open to all.
“The commodities we get are from the United Food Bank, and also through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and TEFAP, which are federal programs. The money comes through DES (the Department of Economic Security),” Boatman said.
The Food Program also has a grant through First Things First. Along with their emergency food boxes, families with infants are eligible to receive diapers and formula if the food bank has them available.
With the exception of two employees, everyone working at the food bank is a volunteer. Boatman said they are always looking for volunteers, especially on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Last month volunteers logged 131.5 hours stocking shelves, assisting people to their cars with food boxes, helping people sign in, assembling the bread boxes and also lifting heavy boxes.
The hours of the food bank are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Anyone interested in volunteering or taking part in the educational classes may contact Boatman at (480) 362-5630.