Thunderbolts volunteer at food bank

Airmen assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing volunteer at St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, packing emergency food boxes, June 8, 2019, in Phoenix. The Airmen helped pack approximately 700 emergency food boxes, which were distributed to various nonprofit partners in nine different Arizona counties. The boxes consisted of pasta, beans, canned fruits and vegetables, soup and more. (Courtesy photograph)

Seizing the opportunity to make a difference, Airmen from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., volunteered at St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in Phoenix, June 8, 2019.

In two hours, 13 Airmen helped pack approximately 700 emergency food boxes which consisted of pasta, beans, canned fruits and vegetables, soup, cereal, dry milk and canned meat. Volunteers also sorted food, repacked bulk produce and assisted with the organization of the warehouse.

Founded in 1967, SMFBA distributes food in nine Arizona counties to nearly 700 nonprofit partners, including homeless shelters, food pantries and dining halls. More than 80,000 volunteers participate each year with SMFBA. Combined with their partner agencies, SMFBA distributes more than 1.5 million meals a week to help feed hungry families.

“I know everyone in the Air Force contributes to the fight, but at the end of the day, I want to contribute more than that,” said Airman Gabriella Zuniga, 56th Medical Operations Squadron medical technician, and a SMFBA volunteer “Volunteering has always made me feel whole, bigger and more useful.”

For more than 10 years, Thunderbolts have volunteered at SMFBA growing relationships within the community and their fellow wingmen.
“My experience with volunteering was great,” said Airman 1st Class Aubrey Smith, 56th Operations Support Squadron operations intelligence. “It felt good to know we were helping people in need and I truly felt as though I was making a difference with my peers.”

The volunteers are helping to build the future of Phoenix and the surrounding communities, one food box at a time.

People are able to volunteer at SMFBA Monday to Saturday with times varying. For more information on opportunities, contact Senior Airman Alea Gentles at 623-856-7232 or Senior Airman Caitlin Diaz-Gorsi at 623-856-6012.