Trees in Yuma are teeming with citrus and the Yuma Community Food Bank is asking for donations from anybody in the Yuma area who may have excess fruit.
While last year the food bank was able to send out crews to glean orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime trees at the request of homeowners and landowners, this year the group does not have the capacity to do so, said Michael Ivers, YCFB president and CEO.
Instead, he explained, they are encouraging the community to pick their own fruit and bring it in to their facility at 2404 E. 24th St. from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays.
“It's important to get the fruit to people who need it, especially children,” he said. “Don't let it go to waste. Let the community help the community.”
Ivers noted that the need for food assistance in the community continues to grow as YCFB's numbers keep increasing.
He shared a story about a person who was a donor to YCFB before Christmas, but after family members lost their jobs, she is now coming in to receive food herself.
For more information about donating citrus, contact YCFB administrative assistant Cynthia Torres at 259-2200.
She said that Friday the agency was thankful to have received a single citrus donation of 2,256 pounds from a man named Curt Foster, something that will be very beneficial to the community that comes through the facility.
“We're still expecting more to come in,” she said.
Ivers added, “We're really impressed with the generosity of the people of Yuma. We're really grateful but we just need more. We don't want any citrus to go to waste.”
He said people should drop off donations at the back of the facility so that the produce can be weighed. Ivers also asked that people remove the leaves and stems from the fruit to save employees the job of removing it as they are required to do before they distribute the fruit.
For the second consecutive year, Arizona is under a USDA quarantine due to Sweet Orange Scab.
“The quarantine prohibits food banks from sharing citrus donations with out-of-state food banks in exchange for other produce items, as has been standard practice,” stated an Association of Arizona Food Banks news release.
“In response, some food banks have implemented plans to juice a portion of the citrus donations they receive. It's important to note that affected citrus is perfectly good to eat and juice, since Sweet Orange Scab only affects how the citrus looks, not how it tastes or its nutritional value.
“Another result of Sweet Orange Scab is that most food banks are now unable to come to your property to glean your citrus as has been done in the past. Individuals should contact their local food bank to inquire about that food bank's specific gleaning policies and for more information about dropping-off their citrus donations.”
Visit www.citrusresearch.org/sweet-orange-scab for more information about the quarantine.
Sarah Womer can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.