Fresh Produce Association of the Americas Helps With Produce Donations For Northern Arizona Tribal Nations
NOGALES, AZ - The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) is doing its part on the frontlines of fresh as it aligns with industry leaders in Arizona to help those communities hit the hardest by the coronavirus outbreak. On Wednesday, members of Arizona’s National Guard arrived at Santa Cruz Cold Storage in Rio Rico to pick up three truckloads of fresh produce destined for the Hopi, Navajo, and White Mountain Apache Nations in Northeast Arizona.
“It’s a good feeling to see the trucks heading out,” said Scott Vandervoet, Chairman of FPAA. “I hope this helps ease the burden for people trying to make sure they can feed their families. It’s our responsibility as friends, neighbors, and fellow Arizonans to try and help each other in challenging times. From the first moment we received the request from Santa Cruz County until now, I’m so proud of how this community has come together.”
Emmis Yubeta, Director of Membership and Events for FPAA, added, “I’m overwhelmed with emotion at how many people have answered calls to help. Each and every time I made a phone call, the person answering asked me how they could help. I feel that I truly do work with the best industry. The produce industry came together to help in a time of need, and I couldn't be prouder to be a part of it.”
The fresh produce donation was put together in a matter of days and, according to a press release, was a true testament of what the fresh produce industry can accomplish when it works together as a community.
FPAA’s Vandervoet and Yubeta worked alongside Jaime Chamberlain, Chairman of the Greater Nogales Santa Cruz County Port Authority; Bruce Bracker, Santa Cruz County Supervisor; and Sharon Bronson, Pima County Supervisor, to divert pallets of fresh Mexican produce to the three Nations.
Each Nogales leader played a crucial role in the logistics of the donation, partnering together to help get cucumbers, bell peppers, honeydew melons, green beans, zucchini, and acorn squash to the right communities.
"COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for Santa Cruz County and for everyone in Arizona and the nation. But this is also a challenge for each of us to find ways in which we can help out our neighbors. Santa Cruz County, in cooperation with Pima County, and our great and generous partners in the produce industry have provided tons of fresh produce that have helped feed thousands of families in Southern Arizona,” said Chairman Bracker. “But we also recognized the need in the tribal nations in northern Arizona. The shipment of three commercial truckloads of fresh produce will help meet the essential nutritional needs for more than 6,000 families in the Hopi, Navajo, and White Mountain Apache Nations. I know that this is only a temporary relief, but we hope we can do more in the future.”
Supervisor Bronson added, “With emergency situations, like we are all facing today with COVID-19, it is imperative that we be prepared to act quickly. Food security is most important during this time of crisis as uncertainty looms about the future. Families don’t have time to wait for solutions when they are hungry. We need to act to meet the food security of everyone, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries. We are in this together, and we will recover together. Thanks to all who made this a reality.”
Santa Cruz Cold Storage also played a pivotal role in this endeavor by dedicating a portion of its warehouse space to holding the fresh produce. The Nogales and Tucson Community Foodbank also helped in coordinating the pick-up of produce and requesting the help of the National Guard, who then aided in picking up the fresh produce and delivering it to the Tribal Nations on Wednesday.
In addition, 5 Star Bobtail Service helped pick up produce from various companies around town, while refrigerated trucks were provided by Wise Trucking and pallets of additional boxes were provided by WestRock.
In a letter to Chairman Bracker and Supervisor Bronson, Jesse Thompson of the Navajo Board of Supervisors, wrote, “I want to express my deepest appreciation to you and your teams for reaching out to the Tribal Nations of Northern Arizona to determine our need for fresh produce during these extraordinary times. If you would, please express our thanks to those who participated.”
Timothy Nuvangyaoma, Chairman of The Hopi Tribe, was also appreciative, stating, "We are very grateful to the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas for coordinating with Santa Cruz County, Pima County, and the Arizona National Guard for reaching out to the Hopi Community to provide fresh produce to assist our Hopi community. With this donation, I know our Hopi people will be happy with the generosity. In these uncertain times it's very important to continue to nurture relationships and partnerships with organizations like the Arizona National Guard and the Santa Cruz County. Thank you for facilitating the contribution to our fight against COVID-19. Kwa-kwah."
FPAA's latest produce donation is part of ongoing community efforts in Santa Cruz and Pima Counties.
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