Fighting hunger by providing emergency food boxes to those in need
Since Matthew’s Crossing Food Bank first opened in Chandler in 2001, tens of thousands of people have been able to get much-needed relief from hunger.
Identifying the need
Executive Director Jan Terhune says the food bank got its start inside the small kitchen at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. By 2005, the food bank had become too big so leaders applied for 501(c)3 status, and moved to a standalone location.
They named the new location Matthew’s Crossing Food Bank.
Emergency food boxes
Terhune says three primary services are the core of the food bank.
“We offer emergency food boxes that are available to our clients once a month. These provide six to eight days of hunger relief,” Terhune says, adding that the food bank is open for three hours every weekday.
“We don’t ever turn anybody away on first visit, and we ask our clients to fill out a registration form. It’s not an evaluation but just helps us to keep track.”
Terhune says they see a large number of working poor come in for the food boxes.
“They have cars and jobs but they just can’t make the money stretch, so six to eight days of food relief will really help to take the edge off.”
Displaced workers, people on fixed incomes, infants, seniors, people with disabilities, veterans and the homeless also come to the food bank. Over 40 percent of the clients are children.
Another key service is holiday food distributions.
“At Thanksgiving we provide around 500 meals thanks to a partnership with PayPal and Wal-Mart,” Terhune says.
“We have a smaller food distribution before Christmas and Easter,” she adds.
Supporting local schools
A new program called Meals to Grow is offered in a partnership with Chandler Unified School District.
Terhune says the school district will purchase, prepare and transport warm meals one evening a week to the food bank, which will then serve the meals to enrolled school-age children. Parents are provided with nutrition education.
“Our plan is to serve 60 to 75 children, and we’re working on a sponsorship to have enough food to take home, and also to provide some nutritional education to the parents,” Terhune says. “We are really excited about this new service.”
Support to those in need
Terhune says she is extremely grateful to the many local corporations that make such generous contributions.
When McCarthy Building Companies learned about the Meals to Grow program, the company’s philanthropic Heart Hats committee volunteered to renovate and expand the food bank.
Chandler Chamber Leadership classmates helped paint the new space and purchase new furniture.
In addition, Ford Motor Company donated a van, which will help with food pickups from local grocery stores.
“We really are seeing record numbers of clients, and thanks to the expansion we can serve even more people,” Terhune says. “We used to see 50 to 65 individuals a week come in for emergency food boxes and now we average 75 to 125.”
Matthew’s Crossing Food Bank gets its food from three primary sources.
“United Food Bank delivers 18,000 pounds of non-perishable food on the first Friday of the month, and thanks to our new van, we pick up food from CVS, Wal-Mart, Winco, Bashas’, Fry’s, Albertsons and Safeway, many of which are new partners for us.”
Food drives provide the rest of the food.
The need for volunteers
Terhune, who has been at the food bank since October, 2014, says she is extremely grateful for the volunteers who keep Matthew’s Crossing Food Bank running smoothly.
“We need 60 to 75 volunteers to stay open each week,” she says.
She is proud of the services that Matthew’s Crossing Food Bank provides to people throughout Chandler.
“Our three core values are compassion, dignity and hope. That’s what keeps all of us going. We offer an opportunity for hope, and to let people know that life can get better.”
Matthew’s Crossing Food Bank is located at 1368 N. Arizona Ave., Unit 112, in Chandler. For more information, call 480.857. 2296 or visit MatthewsCrossing.org.