Recently, I observed a charitable food distribution in Central Florida. A Cadillac Escalade (yes, the classic story you hear of the welfare queen) drove up to receive food. Admittedly, I went into stereotype mode, thinking, “Why is this lady taking food?” I felt immediate anger. This is exactly what many people are talking about.
A site volunteer went to the car window and the driver explained, “I brought Agnes, a member of my church, because I’ve driven by before and observed what you do. Agnes is elderly, her husband is disabled and they don’t have a car and need food.”
We can be in such a rush to judge others — we simply don’t take time to even consider what’s really happening. With today’s polarizing news debates, we’ve created a culture of alienation. It’s toxic.
It’s commonly debated — whether charitable food distribution is enabling people versus not judging those in need and providing them with food. It’s polarizing and shouldn’t happen. I encourage Central Floridians to consider the word “enabling” in a different way. For example, are we enabling senior citizens when we feed them and free up money to buy much-needed medication? Are we enabling children who are in circumstances beyond their control? Are we enabling full-time workers who can barely pay the rent? Are we enabling the unemployed from the recent economic downturn, folks who can’t find a job even close to what they had before?
After six years of sponsoring summer feeding sites in Seminole, Orange and Osceola, Second Harvest Food Bank has expanded into neighboring Brevard County.
In the first week alone, almost 1,000 meals were served at four locations in Melbourne. The outcome of the pilot program, which runs from June 2nd through August 15th , will be used to evaluate the feasibility of further expansion. In addition to Second Harvest’s sites, Brevard County’s School District will serve food at 31 schools and community centers.
Second Harvest Food Bank has been a sponsor since 2007, providing meals to 73 different locations. By the end of summer, an estimated 90,000 Second Harvest meals will have found their way into the hands and tummies of children who lack access to school cafeterias in at-risk, low-income communities. Read More …October 16, 2013
By: Christy Merritt, Dietetic Intern
October 24, 2013, marks the third annual Food Day. Food Day celebrates healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced food. It is also a grassroots campaign for better food policies. On this day thousands of events are happening all over the United States to educate and advocate for a healthier future. Food day strives to encourage consumption of more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, sustainably raised protein sources and less sugary drinks, high-sodium packaged foods and factory-farmed meats.
Food Day has many priorities concerning issues within the food system: Read More …August 20, 2013
The silver haired volunteers asked me to join their circle as they prayed before the Saturday morning food pantry opening. They’ve done this for years and prayed a thousand prayers. They know full well that in this rural area of Central Florida that many people are hurting financially through no fault of their own. A combination of job layoffs, down-sizing and under-employment have created a toxic mix for any kind of stable lifestyle.
The procession that came through the squeaky pantry door of 60 people that morning was a sight to behold. Each one vividly reminded me of the saying…. “There go I but for the grace of God”. Miss Deborah is an example of a person in a situation beyond her control. She suffered a traumatic back injury years ago while working manual labor and has been disabled despite what the doctors have attempted. Read More …June 23, 2013
Over the past few months, I’ve been visiting our Grocery Alliance Donors (BJ’s, Publix, Sam’s Club, Sweetbay, Target, Walmart and Winn Dixie) with a certificate of recognition and a message of thanks. Last year, these combined retail partners were able to provide 14,400,827 total meals to our neighbors in need! Often, Store Managers and Associates are in disbelief that their daily routine of preparing donations can make such a huge impact in our community.
Our partner agencies have access to a wide variety of perishable and non-perishable products that our retailers provide. Recently, while speaking with a few agencies, I asked them, “How has the Grocery Alliance Program impacted your organization?” Read More …April 25, 2013
Kayleigh is nine years old, and in the fourth grade at a Seminole County elementary school. Each day, she and her 6th grade brother participate in their school’s free breakfast and lunch programs.
Even though Kayleigh’s mother works more than 50 hours per week at two separate jobs, there is often not enough money to buy enough food for the family to have enough food on weekends. Both kids used to dread the weekend days, and also the summertime. Read More …