WUFT News

Alachua County Food Drive Aims To Help Hungry, Not Just Homeless

By on October 31st, 2013
Despite a seemingly improving state economy, the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank is struggling to provide for the growing number of people in need of meals.

Brianna Donet / WUFT News

Despite a seemingly improving state economy, the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank is struggling to provide for the growing number of people in need of meals.

One in every six Americans is living in a state of food insecurity, according to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity. Local charities said the proportion is even higher in Alachua County, but the Strike Out Hunger Food Drive on Monday is the community’s latest effort to keep food pantries stocked.

Despite a 17.5 percent drop in homelessness across the state and a decrease in Florida’s unemployment rate, the homeless population of Alachua County has increased 59 percent, according to the 2013 Council on Homelessness report.

This means lines at local food pantries are getting longer.

As many as one in five adults and one in four children in Alachua County is “food insecure,” said John Barli, regional director of Catholic Charities in Gainesville.

But hungry doesn’t necessarily mean homeless. The vast majority of people who do not have access to food are employed, he said.

“They were working — renting a mobile home in Gainesville,” Barli said as an example. “And like so many renters in Gainesville, they had no renter’s insurance.

Gainesville is a minimum wage town where many working people are simply not being paid the wage they need to get by, Barli said.

“Because we’ve got so many students here to take jobs, you don’t have to pay a lot,” Barli said.

The Bread of the Mighty Food Bank serves 134 agencies in five counties. Although the state economy seems to be improving, the food bank is struggling to provide for the growing number of people in need of meals, said Michael Demers, development coordinator.

Demers said the lines there haven’t shortened.

“We have increased our amount of food almost double over the last three years and we still can’t keep up,” he said.

According to national statistics from Feeding America — which oversees food banks around the country — Bread of the Mighty should output 10 million pounds of food a year to the five counties in its district: Alachua, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy and Lafayette.

“We’re only right now at six million pounds,” Demers said. “We still have a ways to go.”

Bread of the Mighty and Catholic Charities are among the organizations served by the Strike Out Hunger Food Drive.

The annual drive is sponsored by the Long Foundation and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission of Florida, and co-sponsored by Gainesville, Alachua County government and Alachua County Nutrition Alliance.

Last year, the Strike Out Hunger Food Drive collected 78,000 pounds of food and gave away 800 Thanksgiving baskets to needy families, said Rodney Long, president and CEO of both the Long Foundation and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission. This year, the goal is 100,000 pounds of food and 1,000 baskets.

“Our food banks and pantries during this time of the year and going into the first quarter of next year are almost bare,” Long said. “We’re trying to raise non-perishable food items that will be able to sustain them going through this holiday period.”

People can donate non-perishable food items to the Strike Out Hunger Food Drive from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4.

Brianna Donet / WUFT News

People can donate non-perishable food items to the Strike Out Hunger Food Drive from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday.

More people need food now than they did this time last year, Long said.

“There are more people in poverty now than there have ever been in America and it’s attributed to a lot of factors,” Long said. “People weren’t able to find jobs after the downturn in the economy. People who had jobs, who normally wouldn’t find themselves needing food assistance, are now needing food assistance.”

The food drive will be held Monday at the Alachua County Fairgrounds. People can drop off non-perishable food items from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Donated food items will be sorted and organized Tuesday, and will be picked up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday by local food banks and pantries.


This entry was posted in Health and Science and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Linda Stanton

    Why don’t they have everyone bring a canned good when they go to vote??

 

More Stories in Health and Science

By leppyone (Nine-banded Armadillo) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Armadillos May Be Cause for Rising Leprosy Rates in Florida

Florida health officials are warning people to stay away from armadillos as they may be the cause of recent leprosy cases in the state. There have been nine cases reported in the last seven months, but none have been reported in Alachua.


Breastfeeding

Florida Hospitals Promote Breastfeeding

Hospitals around Florida are working to create initiatives to help mothers and future mothers with breastfeeding.The Florida Health Department connected with hospitals in 15 counties in June to participate in the Healthiest Weight Florida’s Baby Steps to Baby Friendly Initiative.


Tatum bicycles on the Hawthorne Trail with a group of 30 people from Gator Cycle and Body By Boris. Nicole Aedo / WUFT News

Former Addict Finds Purpose In Biking

Andrew Tatum battled multiple addictions with hard drugs and junk food. Now he finds peace and purpose in biking and blogging about his struggles in order to help others.


Nate Willingham focuses on matching three cards based on color, shape or pattern during his Brain Works session on Friday. This card game is used to improve visual perception.

Brain Training Center Treats Learning Disabilities

Brain Works in Gainesville uses auditory training to treat learning disabilities and brain trauma. It’s helped 13-year-old Nate with his dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia, but scientists question how effective the treatment really is.


UF Study Shows Grape Seed Oil Can Reduce Obesity

A new study has found that muscadine grape seed oil can help reduce obesity. Containing a vitamin E derivative, the oil can help prevent the formation of new fat cells.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments