Food donations at Scottsdale’s only emergency assistance center have dropped by 50 percent since the Vista del Camino Community Center has moved to its less recognizable and temporary spot.
But human services workers hope donors will go out of their way to nourish the needy.
Since August, the center’s temporary location has been at 7375 E. Second St., inside the former downtown senior center.
Connie James, director of Scottsdale’s human services department, said Friday that the construction and fences around the Vista del Camino Community Center, 7700 E. Roosevelt St., may be inadvertently turning away would-be donors.
“We think some of our people have lost us,” James said. “We think people are driving by ... see the fence up and the walls down and keep on driving. We’ve always had good donors, but we think they’re beginning to go elsewhere because they don’t know where we’re at. We want people to know we’re still here; we’re just in downtown Scottsdale.”
Vista del Camino is undergoing a 2,500-square-foot expansion in addition to its 12,500-square-foot facility.
The center is scheduled to move back to its Roosevelt Street location in August, James said.
“Right now, we don’t seem to have enough food for needy families,” she said.
Rita Koppinger, manager of Vista del Camino, said Friday that food donations are about half what they normally are at this time of the year, and hopes the donations pick up in time for the holiday season.
James and Koppinger said that donations usually increase around the holidays because that’s the time of year people are excited about giving, and schools and churches conduct food drives for organizations.
But because of its temporary location, Koppinger said the center has less freezer space, and would prefer that donors give $10 grocery store gift cards so needy families can use them to purchase turkeys for Thanksgiving.
“We want to stress that we still need food,” Koppinger said. “We’re particularly short of peanut butter, cereal, tuna and spaghetti sauce. These are items we always run short of, but we’re in serious need of those items right now. We won’t be able to handle as many turkeys this year, but would like to provide the families a means to purchase them themselves.”
James said the need for food boxes has remained pretty consistent the past few years.
Vista del Camino serves as the emergency assistance center for the city, and also helps needy residents with rent and mortgage payments as well as utility assistance and clothing.
There are 15,000 Scottsdale residents living in poverty, and the center had 4,000 requests for assistance last year, Koppinger said.
The center also is seeking volunteers for its Adopt-AFamily Program which provides food and presents for the holidays to needy families throughout the community, Koppinger said.
Vista del Camino hopes to enroll 500 needy families in Adopt-A-Family, Koppinger said.
Food boxes provided per fiscal year by Vista del Camino Community Center: 2002-03: 2,094 2003-04: 2,100 2004-05: 1,900 2005-06: 1,800
• On average, the center provides 2,000 food boxes a year to needy families including 500 Christmas food boxes.
Want to help?
• To help bring up food donations, the Scottsdale Police Department’s Bike Unit invites residents along for a bike ride today benefiting the Vista del Camino Food Bank. The ride begins at 10 a.m. at the Eldorado Community Center, 2311 N. Miller Road. The ride will head north through the Scottsdale Greenbelt and return to the center.
• The event is free, but residents are asked to bring a can of food for the food bank.
If anyone is interested in making any donations to Vista del Camino Community Center, they can call (480) 312-2323.
SOURCE: SCOTTSDALE HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT