St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance, which was established in 1967, is celebrating 50 years of helping people in Phoenix and surrounding communities. Even though the metropolitan area is one of the fastest growing in the country, many residents there continue to struggle.
In Pima County and four neighboring counties, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona distributed tens of millions of pounds of food last year. Officials say most of the recipients have jobs but just can't make ends meet.
Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona is a nonprofit organization that works differently than a food bank. The group has partnerships with other facilities that prepare the food, and Mobile Meals volunteers deliver them to homebound adults. Many of the clients survive on just a few hundred dollars each month.
Brian Flagg has been working at Casa Maria Catholic Worker Community for more than 30 years. The group serves food to the homeless and neighborhood residents every day of the year except on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Flagg said he has not seen the number of visitors decrease, despite the despite economic improvement following the Great Recession.
Food is just one of the essential needs faced by the working poor. Housing is a major challenge, especially as property values continue to increase. In Southern Arizona, Habitat for Humanity Tucson has helped dozens of people get into their homes over the years, but affordable land is becoming scarce, which makes their mission more difficult.