Since coming on board with Second Harvest, my mission has been to educate elected officials what we’re doing in Central Florida. It was a natural step to reach out to not only our Congressional delegation, but to the Gubernatorial candidates.
We sent all candidates the same request – to tour the food bank and participate in a policy discussion regarding food insecurity in Florida with us. The majority of the candidates accepted our invitation, and a few were even able to speak with our culinary and distribution center students. Here’s a wrap up of our visits from the last few months:
One of our first visitors to the food bank was current Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Putnam is familiar with food banks across Florida and was amazed at the level of food insecurity in our service area. He was not only familiar with our after school feeding program, called Kids’ Cafe, but of the increasing evidence surrounding the connection of health and hunger.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum toured our facility and spoke with our culinary students about their day-to-day lives and the challenges they face. Gillum is familiar with our sister food bank in Tallahassee, Second Harvest Food Bank of the Big Bend. He has openly spoken about his experience as a child and using SNAP (food stamps) to put food on the table.
Former U.S. Representative Gwen Graham visited our food bank, not just for a tour, but for a half-day filled with sorting meats and constructing family boxes in our warehouse. As a former PTA mom, Graham was keenly aware of food insecurity in schools and was happy to hear our strategy to rid any stigma for food insecure high school students.
Winter Park native, Chris King, came during the 2017 Holidays with his staff to volunteer in our warehouse. We discussed childhood food insecurity and possible solutions to ending childhood hunger in Florida. King was pleased to hear about our after school and other feeding efforts during school breaks that help feed the 1 in 4 children in Central Florida that are food insecure.
Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine took his time to speak with our culinary and distribution center students and answer their questions about his platform. He was concerned about the growing food insecurity rates, and spoke about his vision on how state programs are run.
We have no heard back from Jeff Greene‘s campaign regarding a tour. Congressman Ron DeSantis has made a commitment to tour our main facility in Orlando after the primaries. DeSantis has previously visited our Volusia warehouse.