Web Extra Phoenix

Valley View Community Food Bank

Tilly 2 Can

When Saint Mary’s Food Bank took over the West Side Food Bank in Surprise Arizona about three years ago, it didn’t take long before changes were made both in staff and operational practices. Among the personnel casualties was Jesse Ramirez. Jesse had served at the West Side Food Bank for 21 years and last held the position of Manager of Volunteer Services.

When his services were terminated he still had food banking in his blood. Jesse saw a need in the west Maricopa valley for the service of providing free food to the people who needed it. No questions asked.

With only his heart felt belief that nobody should go hungry, Jesse decided to organize a food bank that would provide that service. The task at times seemed daunting especially when the former employer that let him go (Saint Mary’s Food Bank) charged him with unemployment fraud and took him to court.

Bad enough they took him to court, they took him to court in Tucson. We can only speculate as to why. At any rate Jesse made the court appearance and he prevailed. The accuser was ordered to pay the unemployment claim.

One would think that would be the end of it. But that was not to be the case.

The big food bank seemed determined to cause Valley View Community Food Bank to cease to exist. They did it through use of contracts that prevented the major food retailers from giving food to the upstart food bank. The reason was that the major food bank was “filling the need in the community.”

That sure didn’t seem to hold much water when Valley View was feeding more and more hungry people on a daily basis. The best part of this equation is all the food that Valley View provided was absolutely, 100% free. It is Jesse’s belief that no one should have to pay for food if they can’t afford it and they have a need.

Thanks to concerned individuals and religious and non-profit organizations, Valley View Community Food Bank has continued and to survive and thrive.

“We’ve definitely had our moments when we weren’t sure where the food was going to come from”, Ramirez said. “But then by what can only be described as divine intervention we would receive a large monetary donation or churches would take on food drives or someone would hear of our need and we would benefit from their generosity”. 

Because of the efforts of all the churches, non-profits and individuals that believe in what Jesse is doing and his heart felt efforts on behalf of those in need, Valley View has started another food outlet that supports other small food pantries and food banks throughout Arizona.

The new organization is also a 501c-3 non-profit as is Valley View. The new entity, Feeding Arizona is starting to receive donations from the larger food suppliers and as of this writing is looking to expand into larger quarters.

Just like the individuals that need the food, all the food that is supplied by Feeding Arizona is free to the food pantries, food banks and agencies in need.

This is good hearts personified. “It is great to see the generosity of all those involved as volunteers, and giving donations working together for the common good of those in need,” Jesse said.

But thanks also go to Jesse Ramirez for staying the course when all seemed lost. He and his supporters are serving thousands of people every month that would not have a meal otherwise.

If you would like to learn more about Jesse’s mission, Valley View Community Food Bank, or Feeding Arizona; or if you would like to become a donor, volunteer or supporter in some other way, give Jesse a call at 623-933-3358.
By Deborah Brown and Pete Peters
The Boomer and The Babe Show

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