For 23 years, Tucson Electric Power has supported the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, which provides nutritious food to more than 5,000 people every month.
“The Community Food Bank is the safety net for many of our at-risk customers,” said Sharon Foltz, TEP’s Manager of Community Relations. “We recognize and appreciate the enormous role the Community Food Bank plays in our community, and we support its mission and accomplishments.”
In September, TEP partnered with the Community Food Bank, Wells Fargo and Clear Channel for the TEP Childhood Hunger Challenge in recognition of Hunger Action Awareness Month.
TEP employee volunteers collected cash and food donations for the Community Food Bank’s Child Nutrition Program, raising a total of nearly $23,000 with TEP’s matching funds.
The Child Nutrition Program – which TEP helped launch in 2003 – serves 10 schools but has a waiting list of nearly 30 schools. Every Friday during the school year, about 50 students at each school who participate in free and reduced-price meal programs receive a bag full of nutritious snacks (such as tuna and fresh fruit) to take home with them for the weekend.
“One in four children doesn’t know where his or her next meal is coming from, and three in five students qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches in Pima County,” said Mel Dulaney, TEP’s Community Relations Coordinator. “Children are going home hungry on the weekends, and this is what we’re trying to prevent. Hunger is such a serious issue. It prevents people from reaching their full potential.”
Throughout the year, TEP supports the Community Food Bank with various volunteer activities.
TEP has raised money and collected food for the Community Food Bank for the past eight years at its annual employee barbecue, each year donating about 4,000 pounds of food and $1,500 in cash. TEP volunteers also pack food boxes in the Community Food Bank warehouse multiple times a year, and they help staff the annual Christmas Winterhaven food drive.
TEP provided the grant writing, fundraising and volunteer coordination to build a playground and shade ramadas at the Community Food Bank, transforming a gravel parking lot into a welcome and comfortable area for families. TEP also helped the Community Food Bank move into its current warehouse space.
Outside of work, many TEP employees support the Community Food Bank in their neighborhoods and churches. For the last 25 years, the Community Food Bank has had TEP representation on its Board of Directors.
“The Community Food Bank’s reach is so widespread. There aren’t many other organizations that reach so many people,” Dulaney said. “Every dollar that’s donated is stretched into $9 worth of food. This is why donating to the Community Food Bank is such a great investment.”