Some families in the Wickenburg area rely on school lunch programs as the main meal of the day for the children. More than 70 percent of the student population in the Wickenburg area qualifies for a fully or partially paid lunch from the federal government because of the income level of those families.

When many children are excited about Christmas and the winter break, there are children who may suffer because the two-week break also means two weeks without school food programs.

“The thought of children in our community not having enough to eat during the holidays does not sit well with any of us,” wrote Benner-Nawman CEO Edward Kientz in a statement.

For several years Benner-Nawman, its employees, and other community organizations have teamed together to provide families with food boxes to help get them through the Christmas break. Last year, the company and its employees contributed more than $7,000 toward food boxes. This effort created 180 boxes at $43 per box. Other organizations such as The Place Church, Century 21, and Wickenburg Ranch joined the effort and pushed the number of food boxes given to 275.

Benner-Nawman and its employees want to do more.

“We are still far short of helping all the families in need,” Kientz said. “If we were to look just a few miles beyond our town, the number of families in need grows significantly.”

This holiday season, Benner-Nawman and its employees are going to provide a base amount of $8,000, and they want the community join them in this local fight against hunger.

“This can be done by for-profit organizations, churches, and nonprofit groups by gathering funds or creating boxes,” Kientz said.

Individuals can also take the list of items recommended (see accompanying Holiday Food Box List), purchase them and bring them to Benner-Nawman, 3450 Sabin Brown Road, for packaging by Dec. 16. Empty boxes can be picked up at the company location after Thanksgiving. Candy or perishable items should not be included.

Food boxes will be assembled Dec. 17 for delivery to local schools that afternoon. Those donating are requested to fill boxes themselves prior to bringing them to Benner-Nawman if possible, and volunteers can help assemble boxes at the company that day.

Benner-Nawman’s purchases of food will all be made locally.

“Wickenburg is an amazing community, and each of us knows how thankful and blessed we are to enjoy our community and its surroundings,” Kientz said. “This simple act of kindness by providing food for families that are struggling can be achieved this year where no family in need is left out.”

Food lists are available on the Wickenburg Sun’s Facebook page, and can also be obtained at Benner-Nawman.

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