Arizona's families facing hunger crisis

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More than one million Arizonans are at-risk of going hungry but Desert Mission Food Bank is helping change that. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) More than one million Arizonans are at-risk of going hungry but Desert Mission Food Bank is helping change that. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Dave Zappia gets a specialty food box delivered to his home. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Dave Zappia gets a specialty food box delivered to his home. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Beyond food, Desert Mission will offer people a place to live by helping them find an apartment, or even help find them a job. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Beyond food, Desert Mission will offer people a place to live by helping them find an apartment, or even help find them a job. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Desert Mission Food Bank has saved Zappia's life. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Desert Mission Food Bank has saved Zappia's life. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

"I was on the verge of homelessness. I was on the verge of dying," said Dave Zappia.

To some people, Zappia is just a number. He’s a statistic. 

Zappia is one of a million Arizona families living in poverty.

"I went from making $22 an hour to $10 an hour to nothing and being unemployed," Zappia said.

Like so many other Arizonans, when the economy crashed in the late 2000s, people like Zappia saw their lives begin to crumble. 

The bank account was empty. 

The bills were piling up. 

The refrigerator was empty,

"Is it humbling? Yeah, it’s really humbling, but two years ago I was darn near homeless. I was out of food. I was out of money. I was out of health," says Zappia.

Zappia hit rock bottom. He's diabetic. He wasn't able to buy the healthy foods his body needed. His good friend was worried about him and went to Zappia's apartment to check on him.

"I had a friend knock on my door to take me to a church meeting and I had left the door ajar and I was in bed in a diabetic coma. My blood sugar went so low,” Zappia said.

That's when Zappia decided it was time to ask for help.

"That's when you’ve got to suck it up and swallow your pride. What choice do you got?" he said.

The percentage of people living in poverty in Arizona is 17 percent. That’s more than the national average. 

More than 1 million Arizonans are at-risk of going hungry. 

Desert Mission Food Bank is saving lives every day. They provide nutritious food to those who are struggling to make ends meet. 

Brian Voeller is the director of operations.

"This is a community that struggles. The myth that this is all homelessness is not true. It's people working two to three jobs. They're juggling six or seven bills. This kind of acts as an outlet for their grocery store," Voeller said.

Desert Mission has been around for 90 years. They opened a market in Sunnyslope to help provide healthy foods to people labeled as "food insecure." Essentially, these are the people who don't know where their next meal is coming from. 

For people with health-specific needs like Zappia, they get a specialty food box delivered to their homes. The box is full of meats and veggies. It even comes with recipes to teach them how to cook healthy foods. 

“We've started to thin the market out of some of the sweets that come in, some of the candy and the soda that comes in, and we're replacing it with more produce,” says Voeller. 

Desert Mission even provides an onsite nutritionist. 

Beyond food, Desert Mission will offer people a place to live by helping them find an apartment, or even help find them a job. 

Voeller explains asking questions is important. 

“When you have someone who comes back twice in the same month or even three times in the same month, you can start asking those questions up front, 'Hey, what's going on?'” Voeller said.

Desert Mission Food Bank has saved Zappia's life.

"The gals there know me by name. They call me by my name. They just reach out to me, and they don't make me feel bad about showing up. Through Desert Mission, I survived. Now I'm back on my feet. I'm not rolling in dough, but I'm back on my feet," Zappia said.

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