Posted by Scottsdale Independent

The Scottsdale Sunrise  Rotary Club worked hard to make sure that no child goes hungry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During April, Rotarians packaged and distributed $20,000 worth of food to Valley elementary school children and families who do not have enough to eat.

Prior to COVID-19, many students and their families qualified for free or reduced breakfasts and lunches. With school closures, however, meals were reduced to three days per week, leaving families scrambling and fending for themselves on the other days.

Rotarians have helped fill in the gap.

Scottsdale Sunrise Rotary first learned of the need through Brian Hay, principal at Mesa’s Keller Elementary School. Keller is in a low-income community where over 75% of students qualify for the free or reduced breakfast and lunch program, according to a press release.

Mr. Hay became concerned after hearing from several of his teachers that some of their students were struggling. Altogether, the teachers identified 17 families with a total of 71 children who were food-deprived and in dire need.

Seeking assistance, Mr. Hay reached out to his father-in-law Terry Kutzbach, a Rotarian with the Scottsdale Sunrise Rotary Club. When club members heard about the situation, they quickly raised $2,000.


“Rotarians know that it truly takes a village to feed a village, and we are happy to do our part,” Rotarian David Lewis, who has been spearheading the community outreach efforts, said in a prepared statement.

Initially, Mr. Kutzbach and Mr. Lewis thought they could go to the local warehouse outlets and find nonperishable items such as rice, beans, flour, pasta, canned vegetables, canned fruit and other essentials. With store shelves depleted, they realized they needed assistance.

In a stroke of serendipity, Mr. Lewis had attended high school in the U.K. with a woman named Barbara Allen, whose son is Adam Allison, chef and owner of Handlebar Diner in east Mesa.

Mr. Lewis connected with Mr. Allison, who has also been engaged in outreach efforts during the COVID-19 outbreak. Mr. Allison told Mr. Lewis to “leave it to me” and he would help the Rotary Club procure the items that they sought using contacts with his food supplier Shamrock Food.

Mr. Allison came through within a few days of the Rotary Club’s request. Mr. Lewis and Mr. Kutzbach picked up what amounted to $3,000 worth of retail-priced food and took it back to Mr. Kutzbach’s business, AAA-Alliance Self Storage where it was temporarily stored in an empty unit.

Then, Mesa teachers worked alongside the Scottsdale Rotarians in social distance assembly-line fashion to package up all of the items.

During this same time, another group heard about the Rotarians’ efforts and offered to donate 70 cases of frozen food, totaling close to $15,000. Mr. Allison found a friend who could store the frozen food in a warehouse freezer.

Mr. Lewis and Mr. Kutzbach then rented a truck with a freezer to pick up the food and four Rotarians, Mr. Hay and several Mesa teachers met to work and repackage all of the frozen items.

“Finally, when we had packaged all of the food, the needy families formed a line and each family was given their allotment,” Mr. Lewis said in a prepared statement.

“The smiling faces of thanks and gratitude were overwhelming. Some families had no transportation, so teachers loaded up their vehicles and drove the food to the families’ homes. This was truly an outpouring of love and a grassroots effort.”

The Rotarians had 35 cases of frozen food remaining, so Mr. Kutzbach contacted a local food bank which was thrilled to receive the donation.

Two weeks later on April 29, with the need growing to 31 in-need families, Rotarians reassembled in social distance assembly line fashion to package and distribute more food for families. Mr. Hay informed the club that the families’ greatest need was for staples such as beans, rice, and flour.

A woman, who insisted to the Rotarians she remain anonymous, told Mr. Lewis to keep her in the loop if the club had another Food Drive.

Mr. Lewis informed her of the need for seven 50-pound bags of pinto beans, seven 50-pound bags of rice, and 12 25-pound bags of flour totaling 1,000 pounds of food at a retail cost of $3,000. Several hours later, she messaged Mr. Lewis and said “all was paid for and arranged with Shamrock.”

“The pandemic has hit many of our Keller families hard, especially those who have lost their jobs,” Mr. Hay said in a prepared statement. “Rotary has done an amazing job of helping Keller stand in the gap for those families and make sure that finding food for their children is not a stress they have to deal with during this crisis.

“It is amazing to see the community come together to support each other, from the people providing food, to the volunteers who helped sort, organize, and deliver the food to families. We are eternally grateful for the support we have received to meet the basic needs of our children.”

The Rotarians hope to continue their It Takes A Village Food Drives until the pandemic subsides.

“A lot of angels are out there who are looking for opportunities to serve,” Mr. Lewis said.

“Scottsdale Sunrise Rotary Club will gladly help put food in the hands of people who desperately need it. We recently got the lead on several Scottsdale families who have food deficits and we hope to include them in our third food drive.”

All donations are welcome. Anyone who wants to help should contact David Lewis via his e-mail at