The devastation Hurricane Dorian caused to The Bahamas has shown how charitable South Florida can be. We’re generously writing checks and dropping off endless buckets of supplies for victims in their time of need. But there are some even closer to home that could also use our time and money which is why Feeding South Florida can use your help. Since 1981 the food bank has served Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties to make sure nobody goes to bed or work hungry.
“People don’t know how hunger affects families. People equate hunger with homelessness,” Feeding South Florida CEO Paco Vélez said over the phone. “Less than one percent of the people we serve are homeless. It’s working people in low paying jobs that go hungry. Many of them are literally the people that put food on our table, those that harvest our food, farmworkers, cooks, servers who struggle to put food on their table.”
The numbers Vélez throws around are staggering. 706,000 people in South Florida are food insecure, meaning, they don’t know where they will get their next meal. Velez said it isn’t a matter of supply, it’s one of distribution. “There’s plenty of food out there. Last year we rescued 61 million pounds of food. Palm Beach is the largest agricultural county east of the Mississippi. We get donations from Publix, Amazon, from the ports. We were able to hand out 100 million dollars worth of food on a seven million dollar budget.”
Private donations to Feeding South Florida go mainly toward distribution.
“We need to pay to operate refrigerated trucks and the drivers. But every one dollar donated equals seven meals for someone. We’re proud to be transparent with your investment,” Vélez said. Because not everyone is in a position to give money, Feeding South Florida also offers the chance to volunteer your time. “Food needs to be distributed and sorted every Tuesday through Saturday. We need people to inspect the food. There’s room for everyone to get involved. We’ve had congregations, businesses, we even hosted a family reunion. We can accomodate 125 volunteers at a time.”
Velez said those interested in learning more should visit their website at feedingsouthflorida.org where you can easily access ways to give and get involved. “Helping happens on both sides,” Velez said. Those receiving food can nourish their bodies while those helping out can get some nourishment for their souls.