By Jan Horne

The dark, calm early Thursday morning is a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle taking place inside the brightly lit city of Scottsdale Granite Reef Senior Center.

Human Services Representative Kevin Herrick is helping Desert Mission and St. Mary’s Food Bank unload delivered food targeted for the city’s Brown Bag Program. He safely works alongside a handful of other staff to put together care packages for our most vulnerable residents: homebound, disabled and low-income seniors.

The senior centers’ Brown Bag Program supplies protein, bread, fruits and vegetables to 240 eligible residents the first and third Thursday of each month. Each bag contains about 15 pounds of food valued at $25.50. The program has been in existence for 20 years.

Resident Helen Hawkins has been receiving bags for three years. She’s grateful for the food and says, “There’s always plenty, including fresh fruits and vegetables that I don’t always have easy access to.” Besides being a recipient, Helen also volunteers by delivering Brown Bags to other people who live in her retirement building.

How Scottsdale Funds the Program
The nonprofit Scottsdale Community Partners contributes significantly to this program, providing funding for the food purchases and delivery requirements. Now, the CARES Act also is providing dollars to ensure the program continues seamlessly during COVID-19.

The city received $29 million in CARES Act funding and has allocated the money to two funding priorities: Community Investment and City Operations. About $3 million is helping care for our most vulnerable citizens through services such as the Brown Bag Program, employment training, and the recent Adopt-a-Family holiday donation program.

How You Can Help – Or Get Help
Herrick said he can always use extra help ensuring our seniors are well taken care of. People can volunteer to deliver bags or make monetary contributions. Learn more at

In addition, he encourages people who need help – or know of people who need help – to contact the Granite Reef Senior Center at 480-312-1700.