By Kim Gauthier

When you think of people who go without food, do you think of poor countries such as Africa or India? Would you be surprised to learn there are people in the United States, and in Arizona, who are hungry every day? One in four children – or 25% – in the state of Arizona go to bed hungry. One in five adults (20%), and one in 7 (15%) senior citizens go to bed hungry every day.

Thankfully, there are people dedicated to helping everyone get the food they need. One of those people is Melissa Forrester of United Food Bank (UFB). Melissa helps UFB provide food to locations all over Pinal, Gila, and parts of Maricopa, Navajo, and Apache Counties in Arizona. United Food Bank collects food and sends it all over the state to help fight hunger.

United Food Bank provides over 2 Million pounds of food every month – that’s 61,000 meals EVERY DAY. That’s 24 Million pounds of food and 22 Million meals every year! When people donate money to United Food Bank, they can buy 5 meals for every dollar that’s donated.

Anyone who needs food can go to the agencies that get food from the UFB in their area. Go online and visit Type in a zip code and scroll down to see where to get food. It will show the name of the agency, the address, phone number, and when it’s open. Many agencies provide other things like clothes, help paying rent and help paying utilities too.

“We are a safety net helping families, children, seniors, veterans, and others who need food,” says Melissa Forrester. “I love that we can help people on their journey to get out of hunger.”

Melissa is one of the people who work for United Food Bank as an employee, but they need volunteers to do all the work that needs to be done. You can be one of those volunteers. Here are a couple of the ways you can help end hunger in Arizona.

Host a Food Drive  – Anyone can coordinate a food drive in their community, faith-based community, a local business or a school food drive. In fact, United Food Bank holds a School Food Drive competition every year. You can talk to a teacher or the principal at your school and ask if you can hold a food drive.

Volunteer – Sign up to volunteer! Go to United Food Bank’s website: Volunteers sort food into 29 different categories so agencies can order what they need.

Volunteers create Emergency Food Boxes which are given out by First Responders (police and fire fighters).  On Fridays, United Food Bank hosts a program called “Help Yourself.”Volunteers are needed to help people through the “shopping” process.

“Help Yourself” is available to anyone and is a way to help them buy more food than they could get at a grocery store. For $20 shoppers can end up with a cart full of food. It’s a great program that helps people feed themselves and their families.

If you or your family need help with food, United Food Bank is here to help you. If you know someone who needs help, let them know where they can find food. You can make a difference in your community.