JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Volunteers at Feeding Northeast Florida are sorting through thousands of pounds of food donated to them from The Players Championship.
An area that would typically be packed with people was sitting still on Friday after the decision to cancel the tournament. But gathered around the clubhouse -- dozens of people packing trucks with food.
Among those helping -- members of the culinary team, including Azhar Mohammad, the senior executive chief for TPC Sawgrass.
“We started production ten days ago with some dressing, and things with a longer shelf life,” Mohammad said. “We have so much food left over. We decided to donate and every chef that’s put in long hours sees it’s going to a great cause.”
The beneficiary: Feeding Northeast Florida
“We serve approximately 250 agencies and partner programs and provide food to the food insecure throughout this area,” said Susan King, the CEO of Feeding Northeast Florida.
Inside Feeding Northeast Florida’s warehouse, volunteers were preparing for truckloads of food. King said their are bout 260,000 people throughout Northeast Florida that are considered to be food insecure.
Spearheading the effort is PGA tour player and Northeast Florida resident, Billy Horschel.
“It just helps a lot in this community, and my wife and I have been involved since 2014, and our goal is to try and get our community food secure, and with the help from everyone here, it’s going to go a long way, and it’s a step in the right direction,” Horschel said.
Rather than letting the food from the weekend go to waste, it’s now become a blessing for many.
Food donated to the Sulzbacher Center
On Saturday, hundreds packed into the Sulzbacher Center around lunchtime for a meal prepared by TPC Sawgrass chefs.
Serving people -- Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour Chairman, and Jared Rice, the Executive Director of The Players.
“It’s emotional. The tournament and the game of golf is a unifier and a way to unify the community,” Rice said.
Kendall Barnes lives at the Sulzbacher Center.
“I feel greatly appreciated and thankful,” Barnes said. “A good ending and this is a good thing to do for people, it’s a nice gesture. I appreciate it and I thank you guys for showing gratitude and hospitality.”
Barnes is one of hundreds of people the center serves daily.
“We’re talking about 500 of my own residents, an additional 200 people come here for the urban rest stop, which are the street homeless, the unsheltered folks. You’re looking at a good 700 people a day. We’re doing 1,500 meals,” said Cindy Funkhouser, CEO of the Sulzbacher Center. “It’s going to be weeks and weeks worth of food. Some of it is frozen, and a ton of it is fresh food.”