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Local organizations hand out 50K pounds of food to combat hunger

Drive-thru event Saturday is one of many seeking to help during pandemic

Hundreds line up for food giveaway
Hundreds line up for food giveaway

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – FarmShare and other local businesses are doing their part to make sure no one in Northeast Florida goes hungry with drive-thru food distribution events around the area.

Saturday’s event started at 9 a.m. at the Community Health Outreach on Timuquana Road in Southwest Jacksonville.

Farm Shares said 816 families picked up more than 50,000 pounds of produce, meat and canned goods within three hours at the drive-thru event. Costco pitched in by donating 75 Christmas trees that will be given out in addition to the food.

Hundreds of cars lined up hours before the event began. It was drive-thru only to minimize contact with others.

Farm Share partnered with Publix, Humana, and the local Rotary for the event. The organization said hunger doesn’t have a face and that the organization sees all different classes, different walks of life affected and the need is continuously growing. This is at a time where many families say they are experiencing food insecurity for the first time.

Leighsha Johnson with FarmShare said the distributions have a festive feeling, and no one should feel insecure about coming to get food.

“Imagine not being able to feed your family during the holiday, being able to give something to put something on the table is everything to FarmShare,” said Johnson.

It’s all hands on deck to make an event of this magnitude happen.

“It’s such a tough time right now with COVID, and I don’t see a let up. Our services are constantly growing,” said Virginia Pillsbury with Community Health Outreach.

Food Pantry Manager Charles Green told News4Jax it’s inspiring to see volunteers of all ages coming to help as the need is growing in our community.

“Choices -- that’s all we are hearing -- choices -- what do I do? Do I buy groceries or do I buy gas? And us being here, we can eliminate one of those needs because we can give them food. They can get enough food to last an entire week, and they can come back the next week,” said Green. “A lot of volunteers have come forward helping us out not that they weren’t coming before but now volunteers have increased. The clients coming to get food have increased, and we’re trying to do our very best to meet that need.”

Some said the need is so great that they do come on a weekly basis.

“It helps me because I’m a great grandmother and I have two great-grandkids that I’m raising,” said Marilyn Brown, who was picking up food.

A recent study by market research company OnePoll found about four in 10 Americans report they have experienced food insecurity for the first time during the pandemic.

The report revealed about half of the 2,000 people polled said they’ve struggled to afford food, while 37% report skipping meals themselves so there was enough food for their children to eat.

FarmShare is looking for volunteers and financial donations. If you would like to help, you can go to farmshare.org or text EAT to 41-444.

FarmShare will also hold a food distribution drive-thru event beginning at 9 a.m. Dec. 8 at the Ponce De Leon Mall at 2121 U.S. 1 in St. Augustine. That event, courtesy of St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, includes a kids holiday activity kid for the first 1,600 kids.


About the Author:

Multi-media journalist with a special interest in Georgia issues.