St. Mary's Food Bank: We want your grapefruit

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Ryan O'Donnell

Posted on February 18, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 20 at 3:34 PM

Map: St. Mary's Food Bank locations

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PHOENIX, Ariz. -- If you're one of the many Valley residents with laden grapefruit trees, St. Mary's Food Bank would love to have your extra fruit.

St. Mary's hopes to get between 2 and 3 million pounds of fresh fruit in the next couple of months. While much of that fruit will go into emergency food boxes and to mobile pantry locations, but because fruit has a relatively short shelf life -- about three weeks -- the rest will go to Sun Orchard where it will be juiced.

"We bring it here to Sun Orchard," St. Mary's spokesman Jerry Brown told 3TV's Ryan O'Donnell. "They're nice enough, not only do they juice it for us, they bottle it for us and label it for us."

It takes about 20 pounds of fruit to make one gallon of grapefruit juice. That juice, which can be frozen, lasts far longer than fresh fruit. St. Mary's can distribute the juice throughout the spring and even into early summer.

This is the third year Sun Orchard, where juicing operations run 24/7, has stepped up for St. Mary's. The company donates everything necessary to make the juice for the food bank -- everything but the fruit. That comes from Valley residents.

St. Mary's has always collected citrus from Valley residents, but Sun Orchard's help means the food bank can do even more. Until recently, St. Mary's could only distribute fresh fruit and only for a limited time. Sun Orchard changed that.

"They'll juice about 700,000 pounds of grapefruits and turn it into grapefruit juice that we can use for a lot longer than the plain fruit," Brown said. "They'll wind up juicing about 30,000 gallons this growing season. That's about what they did last year."

If you have more grapefruit than you and your family can possibly eat or juice, don't let it go to waste. Celebrate National Grapefruit month by dropping off your extra citrus at the St. Mary's Food Bank locations in Phoenix and Surprise. All donations will help feed those in need.

St. Mary's will be taking citrus donations until April. The organization also accepts oranges to include in its food boxes, but it only juices grapefruit.

If you have any questions, call 602-242-FOOD.

Founded in 1967, St. Mary’s is the world’s first food bank. It continues to be one of the biggest food banks in the country. Sun Orchard was founded in Tempe in 1984.

"Phoenix has been really good to Sun Orchard so it's important for us as a business to give back to the community," Sun Orchard spokesman Adam Isaacs said. "St. Mary's is a fantastic organization and we're proud to support their mission."

Where to take your citrus donations

  • 2831 N. 31st Ave., Phoenix
  • 13050 West Elm St., Surprise

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