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Food Available From 500 Sites During Arizona Teacher Strike

st marys volunteers pack boxes
Annika Cline/KJZZ
Volunteers at St. Mary's Food Bank pack boxes of food in 2016.

Five hundred food distribution centers will open their doors to any students or families who need a meal during a planned teacher walk-out.

“This was a huge thing that the movement was thinking about — the food was a priority,” said Josh Rosenbaum, a high school teacher at Camelback High School and #RedForEd organizer.

Christ’s Church of the Valley donated to St. Mary's Food Bank ahead of the walk-out. Food will be distributed through St. Mary's existing centers.

“With over 500 distribution centers throughout the state, there's not one student who won’t be served,” Rosenbaum said.

The most recent data shows half a million Arizona students receive free or reduced lunches, and another 260,000 get free or reduced-price breakfasts at public schools, according to the Food Research and Action Center.

The food banks will offer meals to families as long as the the walkout continues, but Rosenbaum said he hopes that won't be long.  

“None of the teachers want to get to Thursday,” he said. “We’d love for the governor to step up and meet our demands.”

#RedForEd orgnaizers are demanding a 20 percent teacher pay hike, annual raises, higher pay for support staff, a restoration of school funding to 2008 levels and an end to new tax cuts until per-pupil funding reaches the national average.

Last week Gov. Doug Ducey announced that by 2020, Arizona teachers will have received a 20 percent pay increase, but opponents raised questions over the financial viability of the plan. #RedForEd organizers said the walkout will go forward as planned unless other demands are addressed.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been corrected to clarify the roles that the named organizations have in distributing food.

Claire Caulfield was a reporter and Morning Edition producer at KJZZ from 2015 to 2019.