PHOENIX -- St. Mary's Food Bank is in desperate need of non-perishable food donations.
St. Mary's warehouse inventory is down 50 percent from last year, forcing the food bank to cut back on the amount of core items put in each of the 30,000-plus emergency food boxes distributed each month, according to spokesman Jerry Brown.
St. Mary's has removed all peanut butter from its shelves in response to a recent voluntary recall. Supplies of replacement non-perishable protein sources were already in short supply.
"The peanut butter recall has come at a difficult time because our warehouse supplies were already at low levels coming off a very slow donation summer," said Beverly Damore, president and CEO of St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance. "Now taking a core item of our emergency food boxes away has really put a strain on our ability to meet the needs of Arizona's hungry."
Brown said this is the first time St. Mary's has been forced to ration non-perishable food items since the economic downturn in 2008, and comes at a time when the need remains at near-record levels.
The Food Bank has had to decline non-perishable food requests from some of its agency partners around the state because supplies of basic core items have reached a critically low level.
The food bank is asking the public to help by donating items from its most-needed list, including tuna (canned or vacuum packed), canned soups, stews, chili and pastas, and all varieties of beans (canned or dried). Other much-needed items include retail-sized cans of tomatoes, fruit and vegetables, boxes of cereal, juice (canned, plastic or boxed), and any type of pasta or rice.
Donations can be taken to St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance locations at 2831 N. 31st Ave. in Phoenix, 13050 W. Elm St. in Surprise, and 1801 W. Route 66 in Flagstaff.
Donation boxes are also located at all Goodwill locations in the Valley. For information on holding a food drive to support St. Mary's Food Bank, call 602-343-3173.