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CASA GRANDE — At the St. Vincent de Paul food bank on Second Street, the line begins to form long before the facility’s 9 a.m. opening.

In recent weeks, requests for help from the charitable food bank have more than doubled. But its two main funding sources — its thrift store and donations from St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church — are currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and resources are running low.

“Between the thrift store and donations from the church, we usually bring in enough revenue to keep going,” said conference Administrator Sylvia Cassity, who oversees the food bank.

The food bank currently needs donations to sustain it until the thrift store reopens.

Donations of disposable gloves, plastic bags and water are also needed.

“We had a volunteer make us respiratory masks for our volunteers, so we have plenty of those,” Cassity said.

The St. Vincent de Paul food bank serves qualifying clients who live in Casa Grande, Arizona City, Stanfield and Maricopa.

“We serve everyone within our service area,” Cassity said. “Recipients don’t need to be Catholic.”

On any given day, about 20 to 40 people visit the food bank. In the past few weeks, the number of visitors sometimes exceeds 60 per day, Cassity said.

The food bank usually gives recipients enough food to fill a grocery basket, including meat, dairy, produce, pasta and bread. Much of the food is donated from grocery stores so what’s in stock depends on what the stores donate.

“Lately the stores have been running low on a lot of these things and some of our food, like the meat, is running low,” Cassity said. “We still have plenty of dried goods on hand.”

Despite the shortages, she said the organization is determined to stay open to serve those in need.

“We have our regulars,” Cassity said. “But in the past few weeks, we’ve seen some new faces and some clients who haven’t been here in a while are starting to come back. A lot of them are seniors who either haven’t been able to find things in the stores or they’re afraid to go to the store.”

Among some of the new faces at the food bank are people who have lost their jobs and are running low on food, she said.

“We don’t turn anyone away,” she said. “We help everyone who needs help.”

Clients are served on a walk-in, first-come-first-serve basis Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Recipients must have a photo identification, proof of address and fall within the national poverty guidelines. The organization serves all who qualify regardless of religion, race, political orientation, gender or age.

Those who qualify may visit once every three months for food. Homeless clients may visit once a week and also receive hygiene items, socks, water, snacks and clothing.

The charitable organization has other programs as well as the food bank. It gives out monthly backpacks filled with necessities to the homeless and also provides vouchers for school children during the back-to-school shopping season.

To donate or volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul food bank, call Cassity at 836-2009 or send an email to svdpcasagrande@gmail.com.

Other area agencies working to ensure area residents have plenty to eat are:

  • Lighthouse Ministry, along with a group of churches, is providing emergency food boxes to the elderly every week. For a list of participating churches contact Richard Cunningham at Richard@manupandlead.org or 775-815-5858.
  • Casa Grande Food Bank, 235 E. Fourth St. Call 836-1347 for hours of operation and qualifying criteria.
  • Caring Hands of Pinal County Food Bank, 110 W. Main St., hosts food distribution days twice a month on Tuesdays. The next is from 1:45 to 6 p.m. on April 7.
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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.

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