The Poor we shall always have with us. But Why the Hungry?
this was the driving theme that inspired a worldwide movement more than 50 years ago.
The United States of America is one of the most industrialized producers of food in the entire world.
Here in the U.S., we are so successful at food production that every day, nearly 40% of food produced in the U.S. will go uneaten or discarded.
Soup kitchens, shelters and local churches have been providing free meals for over a century. But these places provide one meal at a time and only to those who are physically able to show up. A place where a family or a shelter could get a weeks’ worth of groceries, for all of the people they feed, simply did not exist.
Until the 1960’s when a compassionate man named John Van Hengel along with a few other resourceful Phoenicians came up with a simple, yet ground breaking notion; – gather food where there is an abundance and deliver it to those in need. A simple thought that no one had dreamt prior to 1967.
So, with a three thousand dollar loan from his church, St. Mary’s Basilica, John Van Hengel secured an old abandoned bakery in South Phoenix and opened St. Mary’s Food Bank…. The World’s First Food Bank.
So why the name Food Bank?
What started out as an innovative idea to help feed the hungry has blossomed into a worldwide movement. Currently there are over 200 food banks in the United States, and hundreds more around the world helping tens of millions of people every day find their next meal and transition into self-sustainability. All thanks to a man and his desire to help those in need.
Fifty years later, St. Mary’s Food Bank will be distributing its one billionth meal. That’s enough to feed the entire population of the United States, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner with plenty of leftovers.
Since 1967, St. Mary’s Food Bank remains a team of extraordinarily compassionate and innovative people who just happen to be operating the world’s first food bank. Their number one goal remains to work themselves out of business, when going out of business means ending hunger. And for that, tens of millions of people around the world are grateful.