When the cupboards are bare and there is no food in the house where does one turn in Vail? The answer is the Greater Vail Community ReSources (ReSources) Vail Food Bank. Recently relocated on land provided through a lease agreement with the Vail School District to a space behind the ReSources thrift store, The Vail Depot at 13105 East Colossal Cave Road illustrates the need.

As the community has continued to grow, so have the needs for assistance, said Resource President Mark Tate. “We are Neighbors Helping Neighbors. In the month of August 2017, the Vail Food Bank served 190 households which equates to 707 people served.”  The ReSources Backpack Program has helped to assure over 90 students across the school district will have food over the weekends when the schools free and reduced lunch program is not in operation. “Each year, based on funding, ReSources provides food to students identified as lacking sufficient food (food insecure) for the weekend. Last school year we were limited by funds and had to cap the program at 50 students. This year, through collaboration with Grace Fellowship Church and the Cienega Rotary, along with a generous grant, we are serving over 90 students,” said Lynnette Tate, volunteer coordinator of the program. “Despite these generous gifts, we are still unable to serve all those who need this vital program.”

A new program this year finds The Vail Food Bank delivering meals to homebound seniors (over the age of 60).  “Right now we are helping eight seniors and have a waiting list,” said Karen McNinch, program manager for the food bank, as she spoke of plans to enlarge the program. Like all of the Resource programs, they can’t enlarge without a sufficient revenue stream and volunteers.  Charged with overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Vail Food Bank, Karen McNinch finds her life filled with a commitment to help those in need in the greater Vail area.

The Vail Food Bank depends upon the donations of non-perishable food items that may be dropped off at the food bank or thrift or at local locations like the Academy Village, the American Legion #109 in Corona, the Del Lago Golf Club, and the Del Webb Club House to name a few. Especially needed are tuna fish, peanut butter, cereal, and canned meats.

Transition from School to Work Andrada Polytechnic High School student Amanda Sanders assists TSW Vocational Training Coordinator Julie Wilson prepare a food box at the Vail Food Bank. Photo provided by the Resources Vail Food Bank.

ReSources programs are dependent upon volunteers. One anonymous volunteer stated, “I experienced tough times in my younger years and love to have the chance to give back. I love to see the faces on people who come in with tears in their eyes and leave with a smile on their face and hope in their heart.”

“I was fortunate to grow up in a loving family, with three meals per day. Seeing children at a crisis nursery in another state and seeing the gratitude of the families who are clients at the Vail Food Bank, has encouraged me to volunteer and support those agencies like the Vail Depot Thrift Store,” said Ev Campbell, a volunteer at both programs. The Campbell’s moved to Del Webb in Tucson when Tom retired from the U. S. Air Force to avail themselves of all the benefits offered at Davis Monthan Air Force Base. Ev has been instrumental in introducing many volunteers from Del Webb to ReSources.

“Students enrolled in Vail high schools Transition from School to Work (TSW) Vocational Training classes have the opportunity to work alongside community volunteers at the Resources Vail Food Bank,” said Julie Wilson, TSW vocational training coordinator.  “This provides real life community and customer service experience for our students. TSW students have used these confidence builders to gain employment in our community,” she said as she talked about her ten years of being involved with special education and how she began volunteering in the third grade with Special Olympics.

(Left to Right) Vail Food Bank Volunteer Tyler McMaster, Vail Food Bank Program Manager Karen McNinch, Volunteer Doug Demlow, and Resources President Mark Tate take a break to pose for the camera in front bread donated by a local business.
Photo by Anne Gibson.

TSW is a program offered through the Vail Unified School District for qualifying students.

Greater Vail Community ReSources is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Monetary donations qualify for the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit. Further information may be obtained at Resources website at www.resourcesvail.org.

A board of directors governs the Greater Vail Area ReSources. The officers are Mark Tate, president; Connie Plummer, vice president of operations; Ken Knas, secretary; and Rob Williamson, treasurer. Members-at-Large are Bob Long, Linda Long, Lynnette Tate, Bill Plummer, Gene McNinch, Jen Anderson and Pam Gerecki.

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Anne Gibson