SPEAKER

Posted by Robert Homann on May 24, 2017
Matt Ruppert, who has been a long time supporter of the GC-UMC Food Bank, introduced our speaker.  Jeff Downing is retired from the Chevrolet
 
Division of General Motors.  He and wife Harriet have been married for 49 years.  They have 3 kids and 5 grandkids.  He graduated from the Wharton School of Business and has been active in the local community including service on the ADOBE board and the Superstition Foothills HOA board.
 
Jeff told us that the Food Bank is the oldest of the Gold Canyon United Methodist Church's mission activities.  It was started in 1997 so it is 20 years old this year.  He has served as administrative manager for the food bank for the past 11 years. The Food Bank outgrew the available space in the church building, but they were fortunate to be able to buy the empty Red Sage restaurant as the new Food Bank location. It has a walk-in freezer and refrigerator. The building is more than a Food Bank since it has 4 major meeting rooms.  Remodeling and clean-up work started in November of 2016 and opened for the first clients on May 17, 2017. 
 
The Food Bank is affiliated with United Food Bank as one of 260 local food banks handled by that cooperative.  Statistical studies show that nationally, 14% of people qualify as "food insecure" which means they do not have enough money to buy food for themselves and their family.  In Arizona, that figure is 15%.  In April of 2017, the GCUMC Food Bank served 692 people and distributed over 5,000 lbs of food.  The clients are 65% from Apache Junction, 15% from Gold Canyon, 9% from Mesa and 11% from San Tan, Florence, Superior, Eloy and other regional communities.
 
Why is the UMC church Food Bank different from others?
1. Clients are not geographically restricted as is the case for example with the AJ Food Bank where one has to have residency in the city.
2. They allow visits twice a month whereas once a month is common among other food banks.  The amount of food given is based on family size.
3. The volunteers try to learn the names of all the clients and treat them with empathy and a smile.
4. They have gluten free and sugar free foods available.
5. They do not give out out-dated foods.
6. They provide basic hygiene items like toothpaste and soap.
7. They provide cat and dog food for family pets.
8. Kids get a free book and a toy each time they come in.
9. They are an all-volunteer staff - there are no paid food bank employees.
 
Jeff listed a few of the "good" and "bad" donations.  Good = toilet paper, tuna, Spam, pre-mixes like Hamburger Helper, baby formula, diapers, wipes, Vienna sausages and sardines.  Bad = dented cans, exotic foods, out-of-date cans.  If they don't get donations of needed supplies, they buy what they need, so cash donations are always welcome. The Food Bank is open 8:30 AM to Noon.  Donations also come in at the Arts Council performances and Doug Benton's Artist Series.  The food given out is typically a 3-day supply so 2 visits only cover food needs for 6 days out of a month.
 
They have a food trading relationship with the Genesis Project in Apache Junction.  They have a resource handout that helps people locate needed services and service agencies.
 
At the end of the talk, President Ed Shockley presented Jeff with a check for $500 from the club.
 
We are very proud of Jeff and his volunteer staff of 50 and proud of all all the donors who give regularly to keep food supplies available.  Thanks to all involved!