‘If It Wasn’t For These Folks…’: Elderly Florida Couple Feeds Hungry Families In Levy County


Bill, left, and Verna Brown, right and great-grandson Iziah try to help feed as many impoverished and hungry Levy County residents as they can. (Shannon Donev/WUFT News)

One elderly couple is making a difference in Levy County to help the county’s residents overcome obstacles to putting food on the table.

Levy County has about 23 percent of its residents living under the poverty level, U.S. Census Bureau. According to the Department of Children and Families, the amount of people on food stamps was 8,835 in June, and 34 percent were children.

Getting food is a big struggle for Levy County residents, but Bill and Verna Brown have tried to offer some of them hope through the Children’s Table, an organization that gives food to needy families. Bill Brown, 84, said the idea for the organization started when a DCF investigator looked into a working mother with three children in the county.

“He heard there was no food in the house,” Brown said. “He came to Verna and I and asked if we could help give them some food.”

The Children’s Table has now operated within the county for 17 years.

Brown said the food initially came from their garden, but it became clear it was not enough. The Browns have given out 28 million pounds of food since then through the help of four sources:

Another large part of the Children’s Table is its volunteers.

Funds for the Children’s Table come from food or financial donations from local churches and residents, according to Verna Brown. One of their biggest donations was $3,800 from Rob and May Corbitt in honor of their son, Lucas “Luke” Corbitt. The money was raised in their first annual fishing tournament in September 2012. The next tournament is Oct. 12 at Gulf Hammock.

Wal-Mart chose The Children’s Table as Community Heroes and awarded them $20,000 in December 2011. According to Verna Brown, the money helped them move into their Bronson establishment in January 2012.

Brown said “we also bought a box truck that enables us to pick up more and more food.”

Regular Food giveaways are Mondays 1 to 3 p.m. and at 5 p.m. for those who cannot attend the first giveaway. They are located at 680 W Thrasher Dr., Bronson, Florida 32621.

Born and raised in Bronson, Alfreda Freeman has dedicated more than 20,000 hours and was awarded the President’s Volunteer Award in July. Freeman said one of the moments that struck her the most was when “we were giving out chickens in Williston and there was an elderly lady that came in to get food, and she started crying because she said she hadn’t had chicken in a long time.” (Shannon Donev/WUFT News)

The Browns’ great-grandson, Iziah, helps during the summer at The Children’s Table. he said one of his favorite parts is when “the people come in, they look so happy they’re coming to get their food.” (Shannon Donev/WUFT News)

One recipient of the Children’s Table, Mirl Hobbs, is disabled from his service in the Vietnam War and does not receive a veteran’s pension. He said, “If it wasn’t for these folks, I wouldn’t have any food during the month most of the time, because I don’t get that much money in Social Security (benefits).” (Shannon Donev/WUFT News)

About Shannon Donev

Shannon is a reporter for WUFT News who may be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news @wuft.org

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