By Amanda Hunt
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Canned food drives, clothing drop boxes, ringing bells and change dispensers are familiar signs of the holiday season.
But after December, those sights of goodwill seem to diminish.
The need for food and clothing is present year-round, despite the emphasis that is placed on the holidays. Lei Florentino, food procurement manager at Community Food Bank, Inc., said there is a particularly great need for food over the holidays, but the need does not go away when the holidays end.
The Community Food Bank provides an average of 25,000 meals a day. The bank mainly serves limited-income families, and 65 percent of those served are children, Florentino said.
"It is mainly for those who fall between the cracks, whose pay doesn't cover their monthly expenses," she said. Florentino also said only about 1 percent of its clientele is homeless.
The food bank sees a great need in both the winter and summer months, Florentino said.
In the winter, the impoverished population increases and more expensive holiday food items, such as turkey and ham, are in demand. More food is needed during the summer months because children are home from school and are not receiving the same benefits, such as free lunches, they receive during the school year, Florentino said.
"We can't predict when donors will give to us," Florentino said. Because of this, the food bank is always in need of items for which the demand does not change, like flour and evaporated milk, she said.
The food bank distributes food to agencies such as crisis centers, neighborhood centers and shelters who then distribute the food to families, Florentino said.
Gretchen Termini, Community Food Bank administrative assistant, said there is an annual Spring Food Drive to help supplement needs after the holiday supply decreases. "This is the time when the business and religious communities get together to handle the increase in mouths to feed," she said.
In July, the food bank holds a drive called "Time for Tucson," when Tucson Electric Power and other area businesses donate to the needy,
The Salvation Army also sees a great increase over the winter and summer months. Don Brooks, the lead case manager at Family Services, said they work particularly hard over the holidays. Family Services helps the needy meet their rent and utility expenses, which does not change with the season, he said.
"We help people all day, everyday," he said. The extra time necessary for the holidays makes things more hectic, but he said, "It's all for a good reason."
Krista Voss, a volunteer with the Salvation Army Angel Tree, said even though most donations are given during the holidays, "it's just good that it's recognized at all."
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