Combating Food Insecurity During a Pandemic

Combating Food Insecurity During a Pandemic

By Haley MacDonell, writer/storyteller, HR intern

Multimedia from this Release

Wednesday, August 26, 2020 - 9:00am


In the United States, 15.9% of people are food insecure, meaning they do not have access to a sufficient source of food. In Arizona, the number is higher, rising to 17.8%. Established in 1967, St. Mary’s Food Bank is one of the most well-known organizations in Arizona combatting food insecurity in nine of the state’s 15 counties. In 2019-20, St. Mary’s Food Bank distributed more than 107 million pounds of food to those in need. 

A Change of Plans

In the past, a group of ON Semiconductor employees volunteered twice a month at St. Mary’s Food Bank to pack food boxes. With the impact of COVID-19, those organized events stopped; however, food insecurity has not. Pantry staples like peanut butter, canned goods, cereal, beans, rice and pasta are all in demand. 

To meet that continuing food need in the community, ON Semiconductor’s Employee Activity Committee created an inaugural Early Morning Drive-Thru Food and Water Drive.

In the early morning of July 9, a small group of employee volunteers masked up to receive donations. Large, cardboard boxes and pallets lined a section of the shade structure in the headquarters parking lot, making it easy for employees to drive through and donate before parking, entering the building and starting their work day.

A box full of peanut butter jars was unloaded from the back of a car. Cases of water bottles were set onto a wooden pallet. Drivers handed over groceries bags with spaghetti, cereal and canned corn. One employee even dropped off a small bag of hygiene items, including shaving products, such as razors. 

Local news station Fox10 anchor and reporter Anita Roman joined the employee volunteers for a 9:08 live segment, where she talked to Keenan Evans, the senior vice president of quality and Employee Activity Committee executive sponsor, and invited the community to donate online via an external opportunity that would remain open until Aug. 8. 

“We rely on resources from the community to do business in order to be successful,” said Keenan during the Fox10 interview. “As we become more successful as a company, it’s incumbent we give back to those places and people who have supported us so much.”

In the end, employees donated 694 pounds of non-perishable food items. Combined with financial contributions exceeding $13,000 donated via a giving opportunity campaign, more than 100,000 meals will be provided to those hungry in the Phoenix community.

Giving with Gumballs

ON Semiconductor’s ties to St. Mary’s Food Bank stretch far beyond employee volunteer events. 

The Hall of Flags, the main walkway at the Phoenix ON Semiconductor site, hosts flags from different countries, bulletins boards, electronic monitors celebrating innovation, and one green, retro gumball machine. 

Back in 2012, the gumball machine was originally used to entice onlookers at auto trade shows. It was retired and placed in the Hall of Flags after much discussion. Mike Hoogstra and Chuck Knobel maintained the machines for several years. 

“It was popular with the people in manufacturing, back when they were on the third floor,” Mike recalls. “But the question was, what do we do with the money from the gumball machine?”

In the past eight years, gumball sales have raised nearly $3,000 for St. Mary’s Food Bank.

The iconic gumball machine is now regularly refilled by the company’s facilities team, and the price has never changed. Anyone at the site can purchase a sweet treat for 25 cents, all of which will go to the food bank. 

“It was a good thing,” Mike explains. “It was fun at the trade show, and it has a greater purpose now. St. Mary’s Food Bank is probably one of the best charities in the Valley for helping those in need.”

For more information about ON Semiconductor’s Giving Program and Diversity & Inclusion efforts, please see our 2019 CSR Report.