Food bank gets new name, has same goal

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The food bank formally known as Second Harvest North Florida is now known as the Nourishment Network.

Although the name is different, it has the same goal: to feed the hungry.

Lutheran Social Services, longtime operator of the food bank, held a conference Tuesday to announce the new name and inform the community it's under new management, with the change of its director.

To celebrate 35 years of service and the start of a new era, the program gave away 7,500 pounds of frozen meat to about 80 of the food bank's member agencies that help feed the hungry.

"It's the grandmother that is raising grandchildren, it's single moms, it's college students, it's everybody. Put a face on it; it's yours, it's you," said Kathy Clements of Christ's Church.

It's also for people who can't qualify for other aid programs.

"It's everybody, it's somebody that just lost their job, that had worked and made $100,000 a year and now they don't make anything, but they're overqualified for food stamps because of what they used to make," Clements said.

In the last 35 years, the organization grew from a small food pantry to a regional operation including more than 400 nonprofit partners with more than 7,000 volunteers that distributed nearly 24 million pounds of food to more than 348,000 people last year. More than 100,000 were children.

"Listen, there's no reason for anyone to go without food," said Wayne Rieley, president and CEO of Lutheran Social Services.

Rieley said the need is great in the community, and although the organization gets a lot of help in the holiday season, it could always use volunteers.

"Food insecurity is a 12-month issue, and folks fall into this, in and out of this for various reasons, you know?" Rieley said.

Existing food outreach programs, including a weekend student backpack program, an after-school feeding program, a community garden, a prenatal care program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, will all remain but be reorganized into a single operation.

"It's a need, a real need, and we have to take care of it," Rieley said. "We just need to get this into their hands."

So far, not much has changed with the program. It is still going to continue to help 17 counties in the area.

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