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Surplus citrus from homeowners' fruit trees being accepted at Tucson-area food banks

Surplus citrus from homeowners' fruit trees being accepted at Tucson-area food banks

The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona is accepting donations of surplus citrus to feed families and seniors in need.

Tucson-area homeowners, who can pick their own citrus and make sure it is edible after recent freezes can drop fruit off at Super Citrus Saturdays starting:

  • Jan. 26 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Rillito Garden Nursery, 6303 N. La Cholla Blvd., and Wells Fargo, 4669 E. Broadway.
  • Feb. 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Ashley Home Furniture, 100 N. Pantano Road, and Wells Fargo, 3655 E. Grant Road.
  • March 23, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Wells Fargo, 10585 N. Oracle Road, and Wells Fargo, 8951 E. Tanque Verde Road.

Citrus drop-offs also will be accepted at the community food banks in Tucson, Marana and Green Valley, or at the offices of selected partner agencies. The locations are:

  • Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, 3003 S. Country Club Road, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Community Food Bank in Marana, 11734 W. Grier Road, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Community Food Bank in Green Valley, 250 Continental Road #101, weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Interfaith Community Services, 2820 W. Ina Road, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • IMPACT of Southern Arizona, 3535 E. Hawser St., weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Greater Vail Community Resources, 13105 E. Colossal Cave Road, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Below-freezing weather can damage fruit and destroy citrus crops. However, workers and volunteers who glean fruit have not seen an issue so far, said Kate Jewett-Williams, volunteer coordinator of the Iskashitaa Refugee Network.

Iskashitaa is a nonprofit, long-time partner organization of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and offers gleaning services year-round to benefit low-income United Nations refugee families and local food banks and soup kitchens.

The organization accepts donations for gleaning services within the city limits, charging $25 for services outside of the city limits.

Experts have said freezes may not affect citrus because temperatures have climbed during the day, which is one reason most fruit has not been damaged.

“Feel the fruit farthest away from the trunk, and if it is hard, then it is normal. Frost-damaged fruit is very soft,” said Jewett-Williams.

“If the fruit has fallen from the tree, it typically is frost-damaged,” she said.

A homeowner can also cut open a fruit and taste it, and then decide if it can be gleaned, Jewett-Williams said.

During the 2018 citrus season, more than 6,500 pounds of fruit were collected in the Tucson area, food bank officials said.

There are thousands of orange, lemon and grapefruit trees in Tucson-area neighborhoods that can be used by organizations that work with needy families, officials said.

People who pick their excess citrus from their yards to donate to the food bank are asked that the fruit be free of stems and leaves.

The food bank serves 27,000 households that qualify for emergency food boxes and food bags.

In 2017, the food bank distributed 70 million pounds of food, up from 52 million pounds in 2016, according to the food bank.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at or 573-4104. On Twitter: @cduartestar

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