Tempe Leadership Class XXIX: Fresh Truck Project

by Ed Baker, Tempe Leadership Class XXIX spokesman; Courtney McIntyre, Tempe Chamber of Commerce

United-Food-BankTempe Leadership Class XXIX donated two refrigerated food trucks worth $90,000 to United Food Bank at a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 25. Class XXIX, made up of 18 people who live and/or work in Tempe, raised $60,000 in three months to purchase the two vehicles as part of their Fresh Truck Project. The funds were coupled with a $30,000 Walmart grant given directly to United Food Bank to complete the purchase.

The Ford Motor Company Fund donated $31,000 to the United Food Bank as part of its “Operation Better World Phoenix” campaign and in conjunction with its national “Mobile Food Pantry” program. All funds from that contribution were used to purchase the Ford Transit Connect vehicle. This truck is ideal for smaller nonprofits that need a more fuel-efficient option to transport goods. 

“Locally, Ford has given more than $175,000 in grants and vehicle donations to hunger-related causes over the past five years and donated more than 30,000 pounds of food as part of Ford dealership-sponsored food drives,” said Steve Papanikolas, Phoenix regional manager for Ford Motor Company. “When we found out about this Tempe Leadership project, we knew we wanted to get involved and help their leadership class make a difference in our community.”

United Food Bank will deploy these two Fresh Trucks to partner agencies across the Valley that lack sufficient refrigeration. These vehicles will be used by Valley nonprofits, including the Salvation Army, Tempe Community Action Agency and the Boys and Girls Clubs of the East Valley. This increased capacity will allow for local and neighborhood food pantries to distribute more produce, dairy and other fresh foods instead of distributing only nonperishable packaged foods. Access to nutritious fresh food is a key way to eliminate urban food deserts and increase the health of those who face hunger in Arizona.

“Together, we can end hunger in Arizona. The delivery of these two Fresh Trucks is a perfect example of corporate partners, civic organizations and nonprofits coming together to make a big impact,” said Jayson Matthews, chief development officer for United Food Bank. “Thank [you to] Tempe Leadership Class XXIX, Ford, Walmart and all of the many businesses and people who donated their support to help United Food Bank end hunger in Arizona.”

The United Food Bank hunger statistics state that one in four children, one in five adults and one in seven seniors struggle with hunger in Arizona. Arizona tied as the worst state in the U.S. when it comes to childhood hunger and was rated fifth-worst for overall food insecurity.

“The Fresh Truck Project aimed to eliminate this gap in the food supply chain here in Greater Phoenix,” said Daniel Milner, Class XXIX’s project manager. “Our class believed that all people deserve access to fresh, nutritious food. This is a huge step toward making that possible.”

Class XXIX raised funds through various grassroots efforts, including the project’s website, bucktruck.org; events at Tempe’s The Handlebar, Whole Foods in Tempe, Phoenix’s Practical Art; and corporate contributions from Ford Motor Company, Walmart and Allstate.

Since 1985, more than 700 diverse, dedicated individuals have participated in the Tempe Leadership program. As a program of and in partnership with the Tempe Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the focus is to bring together like-minded individuals in the community to engage and challenge one another, learn more about the ins and outs of Tempe and, most importantly, make a positive impact in the community.

“We are thrilled with the success of Class XXIX’s Fresh Truck Project, and we are very proud of the class’s efforts,” said Tanya Chavez, president of the Tempe Leadership board of directors. “It exemplifies what Tempe Leadership is all about: creating and empowering leaders and community champions who use their time and talent to make Tempe a great place to live. The Fresh Truck Project is just one of the many ways that Tempe Leadership and its members create a lasting legacy of positive change in our community.”

For more information about Tempe Leadership, e-mail info@tempeleadership.org or call (480) 736-4281.

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