WOW Mobile Pantry helps hundreds of tristate families
Updated: Dec 10, 2019
KANE WICKHAM - News West September 25, 2019
BULLHEAD CITY — The Without Waste Mobile Pantry was bursting at the seams in its relentless efforts to feed the needy in the Tri-state.
The Caring Hearts Food Ministry, and CEO Betty Rae who helms the organization, found itself deluged with folks who came out for its once-a-month mobile pantry at Rotary Park in Bullhead City, where tons of food was distributed.
The event occurs on the third Friday of every month, at its new home in Rotary Park.
Last week saw one of its largest crowds ever, with people showing up as early as 5 a.m., according to Rae and her team of 54 volunteers. In a mere few hours, they supplied 743 households with 16.2 tons of food distributed from St. Mary’s Food Bank trucks that showed up at 6 that morning.
In 2012, Rae hooked up with St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in Phoenix — the first food bank in America, which started operations in the 1970s to rescue food for the needy rather than see it go to waste. Through its work, the alliance supplies food banks in the Tri-state from Caring Hearts and the WOW Mobile Food Pantry, as well as the Colorado River Food Bank in Laughlin and St. Vincent de Paul in Needles among others.
They are specialists in securing what is known as “rescued food” — food that otherwise would become waste. The main source is Nogales, Arizona, where much of the produce and food begin.
Rescued food comes from produce and food suppliers at the source after it has been rejected by buyers like Walmart, grocery chains and others. Often, the produce is rejected because one item in a box or shipment has gone bad; that leaves tons of edible and perfectly good food that is left to rot and likely would be taken to a landfill and thrown away. St. Mary’s Food Alliance began working to “rescue” that perfectly good food and see that it is distributed, where it not only doesn’t go to waste, but helps people who need food.
Teams from the St. Mary’s Food Alliance comb through the foodstuffs and cull out any questionable or unusable food, and the good food is distributed through their series of food distribution networks.
Rae said Caring Hearts Food Ministry and the WOW Mobile Food Pantry supply line are seeking to expand operations to a second monthly pantry at Community Park in Bullhead City as well as south into Mohave Valley. The organization is seeking volunteers and equipment to serve those in need who cannot make it to Rotary Park.
They are seeking volunteers with trucks or vans who might be able to deliver food to people who are incapacitated or otherwise unable to travel. The Colorado River Food Bank has assistance in that respect from the Silver Rider in Laughlin, which brings its vans by on the CRFB’s monthly mobile pantry day, loads up pre-packed boxes of food and delivers them to households who sign up for delivery.
Rae said she wants to do the same thing in Bullhead City, though local transit is not able to provide the same service the Silver Rider does in Laughlin.
Another item the Caring Hearts Food Ministry is seeking is a truck for such deliveries, preferably a refrigerated one with a lift gate.
She said that for the delivery service, a household needs to verify they are in need of such services. The WOW Mobile Food Pantry at Rotary Park is open to any and all who seek food without any qualifying measure.
Rae reminded residents that the annual Lizzy’s Kitchen Thanksgiving Day Dinner will be hosted again this year as well as a Christmastime pantry.
Rae posted a special message to all volunteers and supporters who helped make this WOW Mobile food pantry a success, writing,
“Thank you BHC Parks n’ Rec, Java Jitters @ Coveu, VFW Post 80, Riviera Liquor, and Bimbo Bakeries for your generous sponsorship and donations. We appreciate the families who attended WOW under the shade of the Rotary Park Ramada. We received a huge load of fresh fruit & veggies, and assorted pantry items from St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance. The truck arrived on-time at 6am and we opened a bit early around 10:00am. We were grateful and incredibly fortunate to have a hardworking crew of 54 volunteers to set up a double pantry line. We served a record-breaking 743 Households over 32,400 LBS of imperfectly delicious produce and food items.”
To learn more about how to help Rae in her mission to help others, to donate to the food ministry or to volunteer with the WOW Mobile Food Pantry, go to the organization’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WOWproducePantry, or call 928-758-7689 for more information.