The regional food bank that gives so much help to so many is itself in need of aid from its service community. It’s time to spread some rays of sunshine and become Hunger Heroes on behalf of the Community Food Bank.
The Community Food Bank (CFB), based in Citrus County and serving all of Tampa Bay, reports a 200% spike in the demand for food assistance compared to last year at this time. The Community Food Bank serves more than 60,000 individuals each month by acquiring and distributing nutritious food to more than 50 pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters–including eight based in Hernando County.
According to Barbara Sprague, Executive Director of the CFB, the CFB has already distributed 2,004,172 pounds of food in 2021. Last year, the agency distributed a total of 2,143,040 pounds.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year, we thought we hit an all-time high in the need for food assistance,” explains Sprague. “However, our agencies have been experiencing tremendous increases in demand over the last few months which directly correlates to the end of additional unemployment compensation, SNAP benefits, and other monetary COVID-19 stimulus aid.”
Indeed, the pandemic has produced a widespread financial crisis, which in turn can lead to food insecurity.”COVID shuts down businesses, and some people’s jobs make it impossible for them to work at home,” Sprague said. “And, of course, they may have medical issues. Soon things like food become difficult to afford.”
Although faced with a record distribution need in 2020, CFB is on target to surpass this target in 2021. The CFB has received many generous donations from community businesses and associations, such as The Crystal River Eagle’s Ladies Auxiliary, who donated $1312, and Regions Bank, who recently donated $5000. Yet the food bank’s funds are being depleted by the increased demand, and the agency is in need of more donations.
“Every single donation – whether it is $25, $2500, or $25,000 – is put to good use and makes a difference,” explains Steve Ponticos, President of the CFB Board of Directors. “For every $100 donated, we provide 1000 meals. We are calling on the community to consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us get through this unexpected increase in demand for food assistance.”
CFB is in need also of Hunger Hero volunteers: Food Sorters, Order Pullers, Box Truck Drivers, Warehouse, Pallet Jack, Forklift Experience, and CDL Drivers are welcome.
“We need help sorting foods in the warehouse, and CDL drivers who can transport food,” Sprague said.
These drivers are especially needed in the Hernando area, to ensure that our area receives needed food donations. If you are interested in becoming a Hunger Hero, please call 352-628-3663.
“Our staff and volunteers continue to work overtime to meet the needs of the agencies we serve,” concludes Sprague. “We have a wonderful team and will do whatever it takes to ensure no one in our community goes hungry.”
Share all of your good news with Hernando Sun community reporter Megan Hussey at [email protected].