‘Grand Challenge’ Brings in Food and Cash for Food Bank of Manatee

Donors give 43,025 pounds of food and $38,720 to the Food Bank of Manatee as local organizations and businesses step up to collect during September. Next up this month is Empty Bowls designed to raise more money.

Nearly 150 local groups, businesses and organizations collected more than 21 tons of food and nearly $39,000 during the Grand Challenge, Manatee County’s September food drive for the Food Bank of Manatee.

Organizations, clubs, businesses and schools around Manatee County in September raised 43,025 pounds of food and $38,720 – including a $10,000 contribution from Entre Nous – to help restock the Food Bank of Manatee’s shelves in September. Official totals from the food drive will be finalized this month.

Food Bank officials were overwhelmed by the community response to the Grand Challenge, and said proceeds greatly helped feed Manatee County families. Food Bank Director Cindy Sloan said the Grand Challenge has gone a long way to raise awareness for Manatee’s significant hunger issues.

“The community’s response has been heart-warming,” Sloan said. “I hope people realize exactly how much this helps feed hungry kids and families throughout our county. We truly appreciate all the help.”

Businesses that never before participated in local food drives are giving. Sloan aims to ask those businesses to participate in food drives in the future when needs are great.

Though the chellenge ended Sunday Sloan asked for businesses and groups to continue their fundraising efforts into the fall when major fundraisers begin. The Food Bank’s wildly popular Empty Bowls event will be held Thursday, Oct. 18 and Friday, Oct. 19.

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 been distributed as a result of the Grand Challenge so far.

The Grand Challenge began in August when word began to spread about the Food Bank’s shortage at the end of the summer. 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.

Anyone interested in helping to collect for food 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.


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