The summer is when United Food Bank needs donations the most, but recent school collection drives have provided thousands of pounds of food for the organization as it heads into the slowest months.

Ahwatukee’s Desert Vista High School led the pack for area high schools. Students collected 4,786 pounds of food — the equivalent of 3,682 meals — while in total the collection by 98 East Valley high schools brought in more than 200,000 pounds of food for the organization.

It earned DV the title of “Most Pounds per Student” by United Food Bank. In the past five years, DV students have collected more than 25,000 pounds of food. The record over that time frame was set in 2007 when they brought in almost 8,000 pounds.

“We really rely on the schools for a lot of different reasons and we love that we could get that many meals this year,” said Lisa Goin, chief development officer for United Food Bank. “We’re instilling the sense of community and philanthropy and teaching kids at a young age the importance of charity.”

United Food Bank distributes the food it collects, which Goin said about 2 million pounds run in and out of their warehouse every month, to more than 250 homeless shelters, churches, and other centers around Arizona.

“One in 4 children are living at poverty level where they don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” Goin said. “At United Food Bank, we are trying to fix that.”

The summer months are the slowest in comparison to the holidays and while school is in session. It has been especially bad over the past three years due to the economy. Goin said that can create the misconception of who benefits from donations.

“More than half of the people that receive food from us are at such financial hardship they are choosing between paying rent or food,” she said. “The majority of the people that we are helping are the working poor. You may think it’s the guy on the road with the cardboard sign and while it is him, it goes beyond that. As our founder said, ‘At the end of the money, there’s too much month.’”

If you would like to find out more about how to help or to donate, visit

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