Nourishing Hope 13

Four Chandler Food Banks Continue the Fight Against Hunger


Formerly Chandler Christian Community Center, AZCEND is Chandler’s largest basic necessities service provider, fulfilling the emergency hunger needs of the area’s most vulnerable residents through its Chandler Food Bank. It all started back in November of 1966, when a consortium of Chandler churches unified with the common cause of alleviating poverty in their community. Today, AZCEND still operates from its original downtown Chandler location and continues to change lives by nourishing minds and bodies to create a connected, thriving community. “The goal of our program is to support people as they move from crisis to stability to prosperity,” says CEO Trinity Donovan. “We want to do more than help people maintain their current situation—we want to provide them with the tools they need to move up and change their lives for the better.” These tools include programs such as food boxes, senior nutrition, rent and utility assistance, parenting, health and literacy classes, homeless services and more.

Harvest Compassion Center Chandler

Fairly new to the area, Harvest Compassion Center Chandler (HCCC) first opened in February of 2016 as a volunteer-run organization that exists to serve free food and hygiene products to Arizona residents in need, partnering with Harvest East Valley in its efforts. With a mission to be the hands and feet of Jesus by serving the needs of people in the community, HCCC provides these products to people in a dignified way with the upmost care and compassion. “We strive to be more than just a local food bank,” says Director of Community Life at Harvest East Valley, Terry Horne. “It is set up like a store, where guests can shop and choose their desired food, hygiene products and baby items free of charge. And, our volunteers engage in meaningful conversation with our guests and often pray with and for them.” Each guest is allowed one visit every 30 days with proper identification and a utility bill.

Matthew’s Crossing Food Bank

Matthew’s Crossing certainly had a humble beginning, starting off with just two cans of beans when Saint Matthew’s Episcopal Church founded the food bank back in 2001. They soon began serving meals to their neighbors in need out of their church kitchen, and in that very first year fed approximately 800 individuals. Since then, that number has grown exponentially, yet Matthew’s Crossing still stays true to its core founding values by serving their clients with compassion in order to preserve their dignity and give them hope for a healthier and happier future. “Matthew’s Crossing Food Banks’ success rests in the hands of a very dedicated board, staff and volunteers,” says Executive Director Jan Terhune. “It is a happy and clean place to visit, and all you need to get support from the food bank is to show Arizona photo identification.” Matthew’s Crossing has four main services offered to those in need: emergency food boxes, holiday food boxes, Meals to Grow and Read to Grow.

Society of Saint Vincent de Paul: St. Mary’s/St. Juan Diego Food Bank

In 1965, Father Kelly at St. Mary’s in Chandler organized the first St. Mary’s Conference, where a group of dedicated volunteers took boxes out into the fields and sought out the poor, providing them with socks and shoes for their feet and food for their families. Today, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) operates a Food Bank and Assistance Office in Chandler, continuing their work to feed, clothe, house and heal individuals and families through service and person-to-person relationships. “We have been in the business of building people—mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, next-door neighbors—helping them through difficult struggles and getting them back on their journey forward,” says President of SVdP Katy Cunningham. Assisting in ways well beyond food and financial needs, SVdP also works within the family to provide education, re-education, job services and homeless services. To learn more, please call 480.814.7778.