It is the mission of People Helping People in Hernando, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt charitable organization with an office in Spring Hill, to end hunger and help those with food insecurities in Hernando County. The help agency, which relies entirely on donations and grants from individuals, businesses, religious groups, clubs, and civic organizations, got a major boost for this mission May 1, when employees from Target delivered 6 dozen bags filled with necessities and food collected through their Neighborhood Blessings program, an outreach to the homeless. Also, the Timber Pines community has donated approximately 2,000 pounds of food to the agency.
"The community has excelled in their response to our needs to feed those in our community who are hungry," said Becky Burton, Executive Director of People Helping People in Hernando.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the way that People Helping People distributes its food donations has changed.
"We distribute food differently. We did open our facility for people to eat, use computers, take showers, but that has all changed," she said. "We do not allow people in the facility now. Any meals and/or groceries are given in to-go bags."
Although People Helping People is currently stocked with food donations, Burton says that the agency is still accepting monetary contributions--with an eye to the future.
"We can use monetary donations to help with expenses because we still keep the Help Center open with the hopes that we will be able to open up again (to the public)," she said. "Some day."
Those who wish to donate to People Helping People can visit https://www.phphernando.org/donate.
People Helping People stands among many Hernando help agencies that are amending their methods of assistance to conform with new state guidelines for health and safety. But they're still helping, more and more people each day.
It is the vision of Jericho Road Ministries "to help others glorify and enjoy God in their daily lives through meeting their spiritual and material needs. In doing so, our ministry can be described as a temple, home, school, hospital, and lighthouse."
Locally, Jericho Road Ministries fulfills this mission by feeding 200 families monthly through mass grocery distribution.
"People drive up, we get their info and then the food is boxed and ready to go," said Andrew Chamberlin, executive director of Jericho Road Ministries.
And regardless of how great the community need, Jericho Road strives to meet the demand.
"To give an idea of the impact, normally on a Friday when we distribute the food, we are able to provide a surplus of 2,500 meals to those in need," said Chamberlin. "So, to all who can help, the need is there and every donation is greatly appreciated."
Jericho Road receives nonperishable food donations 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays at 1163 Howell Ave. in Brooksville. On Fridays at the same address, a food distribution session runs 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
"This food is going to those in need in Hernando County," said Chamberlin. "If you would like to help, but can't come to that location, you can make a financial contribution via www.jericho-road.net/donate or you can mail a check to Jericho Road Ministries, Inc., P.O. Box 864, Brooksville, Florida 34605."
The Hernando location of Mid Florida Community Services is offering a whole host of food services at this time. According to information supplied by Ashley Hofecker, Community Engagement Director of Mid Florida Community Services, Inc., Meals on Wheels services are still available. Interested individuals should call 352-796-1426 to have needs assessed; program participation is open to individuals aged 60 years and older, and is provided at no cost. And while Mid Florida's meal sites are currently closed, congregate meal site clients continue to receive home-delivered meals, and will continue to receive them until meal sites reopen. For more information, call (352) 796-1425 or visit https://www.mfcs.us.com/Hernando-County-10-31.html.
Area churches also are answering the call, with several still maintaining their food pantry services with modifications in place.
Mariner United Methodist Church, 7079 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill, offers curbside pickup of food pantry items 9-11 a.m. Monday and Thursday.
And Grace World Outreach Church, 20366 Cortez Blvd. in Brooksville, offers a drive through food pantry service 9-11 a.m. the third Saturday of each month. Donation bags are placed in clients' car trunks.
Fellowship Community Church will open its FCC Food Pantry as a drive through service Wednesday, May 13 and 27, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the church, 11250 Spring Hill Drive in Spring Hill. Each recipient family can receive a box of meal staples that includes pasta, pasta sauce, vegetables, ramen noodles, cereal, Hamburger Helper, etc.
The church also accepts donations of canned goods; call 352-686-4612 for more information.
"We usually help 65 to 70 families a month through our food pantry service," said Emily Sanborn, office manager of Fellowship Community Church. "Anything we can do to help the community."