Guest blog by: Eryn Catter Vargo, Director, Public Relations and Sales at Panera Bread & Second Harvest Board Member
Hungry and children are two words that should never be in the same sentence. As a mother of 3, the thought of a hungry child breaks my heart. “Building Solutions to Hunger: We need you!”, is a call to action for our community. We (the people) need to combat childhood hunger in Central Florida. It is real. It does exist in our backyard. And we all can help. More than 331,000 people in our area are living at or below the federal poverty level ($23,000 a year for a family of four). Approximately 55,000 people receive food assistance in any given week. In the past twelve months alone, the Food Bank provided enough food for more than 32 million meals.
As a board member for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, I decided to engage the community. There is an amazing group of people that stand with me in this fight to reduce the statistic of 1 in 4 children in Central Florida that do not know where their next meal is coming from. We can do this, but we need your help. You know the saying, “It takes a village”…..we are the village. We are one. If everyone opened their hearts and truly lived up to “love thy neighbor”, imagine what a different world we would live in. Imagine changing lives.
Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. That’s what I did. That’s why I am taking a stand on childhood hunger.
Imagine your child was hungry. Imagine your child ate their last meal on Friday at school. Imagine your child not living up to their full potential because they could not eat 3 solid meals a day. Just imagine for a moment that this was your family. No parent should ever feel that they cannot provide for their child. No child should ever be hungry.
In early 2013, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida opened a new facility. This new facility was built to ensure that the hungry children and families most critical need was met. Of the $15 million that it took to build this facility, all but $2 million is paid for. That means that this amazing facility is almost completely paid off, but we must first close the remaining gap of financial support needed to secure our future in this new facility. And we must do so rapidly…hunger will not wait.
We need the community, the village, to pull together to close up the funding; so that every dollar that comes in is allocated to feeding the need in Central Florida. The conservatively forecasted dollar value of the food and grocery products that Second Harvest Food Bank will distribute from our new facility over the next twenty years will exceed $1.4 Billion.
We hope you will agree that few, if any, charitable organizations in our community will come close to this level of economic and human services impact on Central Florida during that same twenty year period of our future.
I challenge you to take a stand. To fight for your neighbors. To change the lives of children and families in Central Florida that need the “village”. We are all able to do truly remarkable, transforming things for people who are struggling in Central Florida. We can move mountains and change our community if we do it together…
At present, Second Harvest Food Bank is seeking additional capital campaign revenue to close this exciting chapter of our history, and move boldly into the future. We seek caring, generous people who believe in the promise of our mission, and in the enormous impact that our new capacity can deliver for children, seniors, families, and so many others in need.
People who understand the hope that can be created for future generations by making a special and enduring gift of support today. Even as we move forward in our new facility, we cannot create the future without you… every bit helps. If we band together, we can have a huge impact in our community.
What part of this vitally important solution can you be? How many lives can you affect in a positive way over the next few decades? Only you know for sure, but please know this…Whatever you can contribute is appreciated and impactful.
Meaningful and highly visible dedication/naming opportunities remain available at this time, and we welcome your inquiry. Please visit www.ShowMercyNow.org for more information.
Eryn Catter Vargo
Director, Public Relations and Sales & Second Harvest Board Member