Nonprofit’s Chandler warehouse fills big need - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Nonprofit’s Chandler warehouse fills big need

March 28th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Nonprofit’s Chandler warehouse fills big need
Community
1

By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

Distribution Center Manager Tyrone Baptist says there seems to be a lot of interest in what’s going on inside the Feed the Children warehouse on McQueen Road in Chandler.

“I legitimately have several people a day that literally stop by and ring the bell and go, ‘Hey, I saw when they were putting this building up, I’ve been kind of seeing it for a while from the street and I’m just curious what this is.’”

Feed the Children is one of the largest nonprofits in the world dedicated to feeding hungry people. Founded in 1979 and based in Oklahoma, it has five distribution centers around the country.

It moved a center in Ontario, California, to Chandler last summer. Perhaps the best way to understand what Feed the Children does is consider the group a middle man of sorts.

Major companies that want to donate large quantities of food and goods to people in need send the products to Feed the Children, which also purchases food from contributions it receives.

“It’s coming from Frito Lay, it’s coming from Dole, it’s coming from Starbucks – these are the top of the food chain that everybody knows,” Baptist said, “We get stuff from Walmart from time to time.”

So how did they settle on Chandler when moving their western distribution center out of California?

“We were looking at ways to expand our impact, and we were looking at Phoenix as an option,” Baptist explained. “Chandler was just one of those fast-growing, really major cities that was coming up and we thought it would be a great opportunity to have reach throughout the East Valley, but also proximity to Phoenix. It just seemed like a great place to be.”

The other distribution centers are located in Oklahoma, Indiana, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.

Feed the Children partners with many of the local nonprofits that have experience distributing those goods to people in need. In fiscal year 2021, Feed the Children distributed about 98.9 million pounds of food and essential goods to more than 10 million people around the world.

Eight million of those people are in the U.S., and they received goods worth about $445.7 million.

That is not all they do.

Feed the Children also partners with local school districts to help teachers from Title I schools. Those are schools recognized by the federal government with having a large percentage of students from low-income families.

Feed the Children has a selection of school supplies at its Chandler warehouse, and occasionally sets up days for teachers from Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa to visit to get what they need at no cost.

“It’s our first year, We’re just dealing with these three cities for right now,” Baptist said. “The plan is to include as many cities as possible from here to Tucson.”

Teachers can take home a bag’s worth of small supplies, a small box worth of bigger supplies and a large item, such as a chair or file cabinet.

Baptist said many of the goods were donated by Avery, Staples and Office Depot.

The Chandler warehouse only has five employees (a sixth one is scheduled to be hired soon) in the 104,000 square foot building. Only about 1,000 square feet are for office space. Feed the Children relies heavily on volunteers to keep food boxes flowing to their partners for distribution.

The volunteers help fill up three types of boxes on an assembly line. The first is food. They also hand out hygiene products as well as cosmetics. Baptist said cosmetics can be important for a needy person to get and keep a job.

“When folks are disenfranchised, they’re down on their luck, maybe that’s the difference between them being able to decide if they have the cosmetics they need to present themselves properly to go out and interview for a job,” he said.

Baptist said some goods do go to adults, even though their mission is to feed the children.

“Somebody needs to take care of the children,” he said. “So, if we’re able to take care of mom and dad, they can in turn take care of the children.”

Baptist said it’s not just large companies that contribute to their supply. He said they often get private donations, which they are happy to take.

He said the best way for local residents to get involved is to volunteer.

“A lot of times to put on these major events, they help of the community is greatly needed,” Baptist said. “We have volunteer opportunities set up weekly.”

How to help

To volunteer or contribute, visit feedthechildren.org.

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