Collaboration boosts food donations

GLENDALE — Six motorcycle police officers escorted a pickup truck full of canned foods to the Salvation Army Glendale on Friday as part of a coordinated donation with the Kiwanis Club of Glendale.

Police and Kiwanis members collaborated to donate 2,673 cans of food and $490 to the Salvation Army’s food pantry, which has seen a dramatic increase in need since October, Capt. Rio Ray said.

“The money is fantastic, but even better is . . . [the] food donations and, as always, people are hitting our doors more and more, and with the current recession, that was definitely needed,” he said.

Demand at the pantry has doubled since last year, when the monthly average of 350 pantry visitors was the highest of any year since the organization started keeping computerized records five years ago, Ray said.

“More of the people that are coming in now are people that were working before,” he said. “Many, at one point, they had two incomes coming in, but maybe one of the people has been laid off, so now they’ve got one income coming in.”

Demand has spiked at other service organizations as well, including Glendale Loaves and Fishes, the city’s other food bank, program coordinator Lora Young said.

Loaves and Fishes has seen a 35% increase in clients, but has also experienced a 25% drop in donations at a time when they’re needed most, Young said.

“Because of the economy, the way it is, donations are down, but the clientele, the needs are up,” she said.

The Kiwanis Club has responded to the need for food donations by organizing quarterly canned food collections in partnership with another organization, said Ron Baker, president of the club.

The club approached the Glendale Police Department about putting together a collection for February and police responded with enthusiasm, sending out mass e-mails and putting up fliers to encourage colleagues to participate, Capt. Lief Nicolaisen said.

Police even coordinated with Public Works Director Steve Zurn to obtain special, barrel-like containers that officers placed throughout the department to round up collections, Nicolaisen said.

“We have good people who are interested in the well being of people in the community, and they know that a lot of people are hurting now, so people showed that they cared,” he said.

The donation could not have come at a better time for the pantry, Ray said.

“I often say that in November and December, people are thinking about the needy during the holiday season, but when February and March come around, we still have people coming into our pantry, but we don’t have as many donations coming in,” he said.

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