Food insecurity is a growing problem in Arizona, where one in three children goes hungry every day, and one in five families stretches its dollars to buy food.
Throughout the year, UNS Energy (the parent company of Tucson Electric Power and UniSource Energy Services) employees address these needs through a variety of Community Action Team volunteer events. The company supports these efforts with grants for the projects.
The third Wednesday of every month, employees head to the Flagstaff Family Food Center to prep, cook and serve healthy meals. Quarterly, TEP CAT volunteers pack food boxes at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, and in Nogales, UES CAT members assemble food boxes for hospice families and the Crossroads Mission.
Every UNS Energy CAT Committee has at least two projects helping the local food banks, and usually many more. Across the company’s service territory, CAT volunteers work to supply food banks through drives such as one in Springerville in October that raised $3,000 to help the rural White Mountain communities.
In Tucson, CAT has adopted an ongoing meal service with the Primavera Men’s Shelter. Patricia Duran in the Renewable Energy department was the original Project Coordinator. “The men at the shelter are very appreciative, and their smiles are warm and sincere. TEP doesn’t just order fast food. We prepare homemade, often times hot meals, and pour love and effort into our service,” she said.
This event allows children to participate along with their parents. “Kids not only help prepare the meals, they are in the front line serving,” Duran said. “I am very proud to be a part of this effort alongside my daughter, Florentina Duran, and other TEP employees and their families.”
On Nov. 14, TEP partnered with 94.9 MIXfm for Thanksgiving on the Mayflower, an annual one-day event that gathers food donations and raises money for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to show our community how much we care about the safety and the wellbeing of families,” UNS Energy Chairman and CEO Paul Bonavia said. “We have folks on any given day helping their neighbors – our customers – in communities across Pima County and around the state, and the Food Bank is one of the most impactful. We go back a long way and value their partnership.”
In all, the Thanksgiving drive raised more than $149,000 for the Community Food Bank.
Said Mel Dulaney, Community Relations Coordinator: “Through all of these efforts, employee volunteers are bettering the lives and futures of people in their communities.”