Cash and food donations continue to come in for the Grand Challenge, but food is being distributed to local agencies almost as quickly as it’s donated. At least 50 agencies come regularly each week, and another 50 receive food as-needed.
Organizations, clubs, businesses and schools around Manatee County have donated nearly 26,000 pounds of food and raised nearly $15,000 to help restock the Food Bank of Manatee’s shelves over the past month. But Food Bank Director Cindy Sloan said more is needed to meet needs until the traditional donation period begins in November.
Food Bank officials use the cash donations to buy food, sometimes as low as 9 cents per pound, so more than 100,000 pounds of food has already been distributed for the hungry this month as a result of the Grand Challenge. But there’s still a great need in the community.
“I really want to thank people for all they’re doing, but we were at a point so low that we’re only now coming out,” Sloan said. “Our agencies are loving it because they can actually fill their trucks to deliver food that can be distributed. But if donations don’t continue to come in we’ll be in the same boat in another month.”
Sloan said she’s amazed at the community response that began in August when word began to spread about the Food Bank’s shortage. County Commissioner Carol Whitmore and School Board member Julie Aranibar launched the “Grand Challenge” urging local groups to raise 1,000 pounds or $1,000 or a combination of the two for the Food Bank.
Sloan said October is typically a slow month for donations, a trend that continues until right before Thanksgiving.
Nearly 100 businesses and organizations have requested food bins to collect canned goods and non-perishable items for the cause. All of the Food Bank’s collection barrels have been distributed to businesses that requested them, but they still have boxes for businesses that want to host a local food drive. Keeton’s Office Supply is delivering food to the Food Bank from any local businesses to which they deliver business orders.
Anyone interested can obtain a Food Bank food collection barrel by calling (941) 747-FOOD. Food Drive Kits can also be found at the Food Bank’s website.