That’s really the core purpose of our respective organizations.
At Valley Metro, we connect communities through our public transit system to enhance lives and get people where they need to go: jobs, schools, doctors and events. Last year, Valley Metro moved an average of 250,000 people a day on public transportation; 16 million people rode light rail.
At United Food Bank, we connect communities to serve hundreds of thousands of people in need across the East Valley and eastern Arizona. Last year, United Food Bank distributed more than 22 million pounds of food, providing nearly 15 million meals to Arizonans in need.
We believe with the timing and our missions’ alignment we have a unique opportunity to join forces and raise awareness for the 2019 Summer of a Million Meals. The campaign fits in perfectly with our connection to people who want to give, and those who need to receive.
The goal is just that: Provide one million meals to people who would otherwise go hungry. Last year, the program was so successful that United Food Bank was able to keep the warehouse shelves stocked even after a long, hot summer of giving. That was a major milestone in the food bank’s 35-year history.
Here’s why it’s important: One in four kids in our state is at risk of hunger. With school on summer break, millions of children lose access to school meals and go without food. Few children who are eligible for free summer meals participate in the government-supported programs.
One in seven seniors in our communities are also at risk of going hungry. The summer heat can make it more difficult to get them to the food they need.
With this program we can easily make a difference.
Here’s one way: On Saturday, July 13 from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m., Valley Metro is loading up the Summer of a Million Meals wrapped bus at the Fry’s Marketplace at 1935 N. Stapley Drive in Mesa.
We will have a “Stuff a Bus” event, so that people can purchase a few extra items, such as canned goods, cereal and peanut butter and easily place them onto the bus for delivery to the food bank.
At Valley Metro, we deliver more than people, we support healthy communities by getting people the resources they need to enhance their lives. We are invested and committed to the communities we serve across the Valley.
You can help in other ways, too: Text “FEEDAZ” to 41-444 or go to AZMillionMeals.org. You can donate until Sept. 2 and help us reach our goal of one million meals during the summer!
Though we are distinctly different organizations, we can play an integral part in bringing together communities to deliver the food they so dearly need.
Scott Smith is CEO of Valley Metro, and a former Mesa Mayor; Dave Richins is President and CEO of United Food Bank, and a former Mesa City Councilman