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United Food Bank Loses 21,000 Pounds Of Food After Freezer Breakdown

United Food Bank Freezer
(Photo courtesy of United Food Bank)
Empty shelves at the United Food Bank after a 21,000-pound food loss caused by a broken freezer compressor.

 A faulty freezer compressor has cost United Food Bank more than 21,000 pounds of food.

Employees showed up on Monday to a freezer on the fritz. The compressor went out on Sunday and an alarm meant to alert staff to problems with the huge freezer did not activate.

President and CEO Dave Richins likens the compressor to the one that’s found in a car that helps cool air-conditioning.

“Ours keeps our whole freezer cold and when that compressor went down, it had a devastating effect on the eight truckloads of food we store in there,” Richins said.

The lost food was mostly frozen fruits, vegetables and cheese.

“It’s a significant loss for us both financially and with the money we have to spend to repair the freezer,” Richins said.  

Richins expects the freezer to be up and running again on Friday, but the fix won’t be cheap. It’s estimated at more than $10,000. The Food Bank estimates it serves four meals with each dollar spent, so that’s a loss of 40,000 meals.

In the meantime, far-flung communities won’t be able to get frozen meat, a vital source of protein, and the food bank is limited in the types of food it can accept and distribute safely. The organization reports it works with more than 200 agencies in five counties in Arizona.

United Food Bank is seeking monetary donations to help offset the repairs and lost food.

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Mariana Dale rustles up stories as a senior field correspondent based out of KJZZ’s East Valley Bureau in Tempe. She’s followed a microphone onto cattle ranches, to the Dominican Republic and many places in between. Dale believes in a story’s strength to introduce us to diverse perspectives, inspire curiosity and hold public leaders accountable for their actions. She started at KJZZ on the digital team in 2016 and still spends a lot of time thinking about how to engage with our community online. Dale has learned from stints at Arizona Public Media, The Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic and as an intern at NPR’s Morning Edition in Culver City. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Dale is grateful for the mentoring of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the Chips Quinn Scholars program and AIR’s New Voices Scholars. A desert native, she loves spending time outside hiking, tending to her cactus and reading.