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AZ Food Banks Face Toughest Holiday Season Ever

November 10, 2009

PHOENIX - With unemployment continuing to rise, Arizona's food banks are seeing record numbers of families seeking emergency food boxes. But contributions are meeting only two-thirds of the need, as the banks face their most challenging holiday season ever.

Association of Arizona Food Banks executive director Ginny Hildebrand says 800,000 individuals have been supplied with emergency food over the past year.

"The number of people that are coming to us every week is actually ticking up faster almost than we can keep track of."

Hildebrand estimates food banks are only meeting 65 to 75 percent of the overall need. She hopes people will observe next week's National Homeless and Hunger Awareness Week by making an extra holiday season contribution or volunteering at a local food bank or homeless shelter.

Hildebrand says it's not as though contributions have dried up: they haven't. But she says the need for emergency food is unprecedented.

"Contributions have been generous, but we're still falling short of meeting that full amount of need. So we're going to be looking for the community to again give the heroic efforts that they have done in the past."

Hildebrand hopes Arizonans will take advantage of a special dollar-for-dollar reduction in state income taxes for food bank contributions.

"It's a tax credit, so by contributing to organizations like food banks or the association of food banks, services for the working poor, people can receive a tax credit on their Arizona taxes."

The credit applies to contributions up to $200 for individuals or $400 for couples.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ