A Brief History of Valley View Community Food Bank
Jesse Ramirez and his family made a commitment to insure that residents in the West Vally re-ceived nutritious food when they were experiencing food insecurity. He registered the name “Valley View Community Food Assistance” with the state and federal government and received a non-profit 501C-3 designation so that donors could make charitable contributions. In March VVCFB opened on it’s doors to the community at 1115 W. Nevada Ave., Youngtown. Sunflow-er Worship gave $1000 to open up. Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church held the first food drive. Fry’s in Surprise provided early food donations. Safeway in SCW opened the door for other Safeways’ food donations. One donor brought a load of groceries from Costco every month(for 3 years). The first turkey drive and the first toy drive were held. Thanksgiving dinner was pre-pared and served at New Joy Ministeries. Clients were allowed to come every two weeks for food. About 8000 people.received food from VVCFB..
Letter carriers program began collecting food for VVCFB. Staff was added when VVCFB par-ticipated in a federal government stimulus program which paid wages for five people over age 50. . Jesse began developing relationships with other programs which needed food for their cli-ents. The Brown Bag senior program began. Over 35,000 pounds of food was distributed.
The community got more involved with VVCFB. A- loaned warehouse space in Surprise was used for storage and a second pantry. K-Love Radio did large promotion. A“Wellness Food Drive” was started by local physicians. . “Boomer and the Babe” (radio team) did their shows every Friday night at the Surprise location to encourage food collection. Over 100 came regular-ly. A small thrift shop.was run by volunteers. Jesse started “Feeding Arizona” to get surplus food from other states. The back to school program began.
VVCFB outgrew its Nevada space and moved Peoria Ave. in Sun City. This location was large enough for pantry, thrift store, and storage. Stimulus program ended but money from “Feeding Arizona” became available for staff salaries. The Farmer’s Market was started.. Because of the demand for food from more families, clients were restricted to one visit a month. Thanksgiving dinner was held at the Lakeview Methodist Church. Four hundred thousand pounds. of food were given to over 100,000 clients
Many community agencies, including PORA, SCAN and the visiter centers began referring cli-ents to VVCFB. The Thanksgiving dinner was moved to the Peoria location.
Eight hundred thousand pounds of food were distributed through the pantry and to partner agen-cies.. The turkey and toy drives grew.
VVCFB began a relationship with Sun City (now Surprise) Pops Band. The band practiced in VVCFN space and collected food at each of their concerts. Thanksgiving dinner was served at the Peoria location but meals were also delivered dinners to those who couldn’t get out.
An Auxillary Team of volunteers worked on events both for fundraising and for visibility The first “Fill a Foodbox” fundraiser was held. The final in house Thanksgiving dinner occurred. Over 300,000 pounds of food were donated through the letter carriers drive.
The lease at Peoria Avenue expired. VVCFB experienced sufficient financial difficulties that a move to a smaller location was required. A final “Fill a Thanksgiving Foodbox” Fundraiser was done at the Peoria location before a move to El Mirage. VVCFB were notified that they would receive money from the Bellevue Baptist Church Foundation and from Season for Sharing. In spite of financial stress, VVCFB gave away almost 4,5000,000 pounds. of food and started out-reach panties in Surprise and Youngtown.
The United Methodist Church of Sun City provided space for a small pantry with rent subsidized by several church members In addition to a thrift store attached to the El Mirage location, inde-pendent thrift stores were opened in SCW and SC. The church also provided space for the “Fill a Foodbox” and a “Before the Fourth” barbeque. The El Mirage landlord, the Coucy Brothers, offered VVCFB space in Glendale big enough for another pantry, thrift store and badly needed storage at a very reasonable rent. Five hundred children received haircuts and backpacks filled with school supplies. For the first Thanksgiving ever, VVCFB had enough food so that every family that asked received a turkey and holiday fixings. Five thousand families received help at Christmas (over 10,000 gifts). Three foster programs were provided with holiday surprises too. Approximately 300 seniors came for weekly supplements at the El Mirage location. Over 5,500,000 pounds of food were distributed to individual clients and 33 partner agencies..
Although approval of permits dragged on in Glendale, the landlords allowed VVCFB to use the space for storage. Thanks to the hardworking A-Team, a St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser was held at Dysart Community Center Over four hundred Easter baskets were donated. Sunflower RV residents continued to be important to VVCFB, providing Easter dresses for over 100 girls. The postal workers drive again provided over 300,000 pounds of canned food The Phoenix Suns Foundation provided assistance for the newly renamed “Michelle Gillespie Back to School” event and over 615 children received backpacks and school supplies. An additional 125 got school supplies after school started. The A-Team organized the 10th Anniversary Gala. Over 5000 families received holiday food boxes between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Fifteen million pounds of food went to 324,000 households and 10 partner agencies.