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Questions raised about AZ food bank

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CHINO VALLEY, AZ (CBS5) -

You'd like to think when you donate food or money that it's getting to the folks who really need it.

But that may not be the case with a food bank north of the Valley.

The Chino Valley Food Bank is causing some serious concerns in the community.

"I don't know where the money is going," said Norm Warner, who spent two years as a board member with the Chino Valley Food Bank.

Warner told CBS 5 News that he resigned last week after witnessing some questionable activity.

"I saw food being moved from the food bank to other locations, which is not the way it's supposed to be," said Warner. "Once it hits the food bank, it's supposed to stay there and be given to the people."

Arizona's Department of Economic Security has also received complaints.

CBS 5 News was told that DES conducted a review, then severed ties with the food bank.

As a result, the St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance, which coordinates donated food from grocery stores and other businesses across the state, has been ordered to cease distribution with the Chino Valley Food Bank.

A spokesperson for St. Mary's said that the food bank no longer meets the guidelines they require to remain a trusted partner.

"It doesn't really hurt the food bank, but its hurting all the people in the community that come to the food bank and rely on the food."

State officials would not reveal the specifics of what the food bank did wrong.

CBS 5 News went to food bank operators Rudy and Margo Salazar looking for answers.

CBS 5 News asked the Salazars if they had been taking donations then reselling the food for profit.

"Oh my God, absolutely not," said Rudy Salazar. "Never have we done anything like that."

The Salazars said that DES and St. Marys likely severed ties with them because of some mistakes they made on a recent audit.

However, they don't think that should justify cutting ties, especially after they've devoted so much of their time and money helping families in need, the Salazars said.

"I'm talking about money out of our own Social Security checks," said Margo Salazar. "I'd like to see another food bank do that. We're feeding the people that are hungry."

The Salazars said they will keep the Chino Valley Food Bank open, but will now have to rely on more local donations to acquire food.

St. Mary's has set up a temporary food bank facility of its own at the local American Legion Post in an effort to keep serving the needs of local families.

They will be open every Thursday morning.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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