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Food Bank's mobile pantry hits the street to help curb hunger on Treasure Coast

By Kim Hughes, Fort Pierce Tribune

1140 days ago   Article ID# 1204931
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Treasure Coast Food Bank

STUART, FLORIDA (Fort Pierce Tribune) - Gathered patiently in the parking lot of Big Apple Pizza on Thursday morning, people of all ages waited for access to the Treasure Coast Food Bank's latest weapon in the fight against hunger: its new Kraft Foods Mobile Pantry.

Those waiting at the South 35th Street location came prepared with coolers, reusable grocery bags, cardboard boxes and even laundry baskets, ready to fill them with fresh produce, meats, dairy products, canned goods, beverages and other staples. Recipients had been pre-selected by Seventh Day Adventist Church and Ministerio International Ebenezer and had received distribution vouchers in advance.

Treasure Coast Food Bank was one of 10 recipients this year to be awarded a Kraft Foods Mobile Pantry through a grant from the Kraft Foods Foundation. The 10 were decided based on the need in the area served by the food bank and by the food bank's ability to run the program, said Rachel Larsen, corporate affairs manager with Kraft Foods.

The vehicle will be a permanent resource for the organization and will help serve the hungry in "food deserts," areas where residents have limited access to grocery stores or emergency food assistance.

Judith Cruz, the food bank's executive director, said the vehicle will be a wonderful resource for reaching those in need.

"We bring the food to them," Cruz said. "My goal is to have that vehicle on the road every single day."

Cruz has said that when she first came on board to head the food bank less than two years ago, the organization was serving 42,000 people a week. As of July, the distribution figures show that number has grown to more than 100,000 individuals each week.

Jackie Velickovich, shopper marketing manager with Kraft Foods, flew down from Charlotte, N.C., to witness the vehicle's first community distribution event.

"The Treasure Coast Food Bank is a very deserving recipient," she said. "We're seeing an unprecedented need in this area and across the country."

Kraft Foods and the food bank partner with local grocery retailers to provide fresh produce, meats and other perishable items. Larry White, director of retail operations with Winn-Dixie, was on hand to show the company's support for the mobile pantry.

"Winn-Dixie is committed to fighting hunger in all the areas we operate," White said, adding that the new vehicle, bearing the Treasure Coast Food Bank logo and website, will help raise visibility for a growing problem.

"Hunger is a silent epidemic," he said.

Martha Perkins of Vero Beach was grateful to be able to take advantage of the mobile pantry. Perkins, who survives on a monthly disability check, said she is currently supporting her college-age daughter as well as a son, daughter-in-law and grandson who recently moved back to Florida from Washington state.

"It's so hard right now," she said. "This takes so much weight off my back. Thank God for people who have kind hearts."

About the Mobile Pantry

The Treasure Coast Food Bank, which serves Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties, was one of 10 recipients nationwide this year to receive a Kraft Foods Mobile Pantry through a grant application process.

The Kraft Foods Foundation has made a three-year $4.5 million commitment to provide 25 of these vehicles to organizations nationwide.

The 26-foot refrigerated vehicle, with roll-up doors and a retractable awning, will travel to different sites within the four-county area and work with partnering agencies to identify and serve individuals and families requiring food assistance. It provides meats, fresh produce, dairy and bakery products, canned goods and other non-perishable items.

WANT TO HELP?

Interested in donating money or becoming a sponsor of the Treasure Coast Food Bank's Kraft Foods Mobile Pantry?

Contact Tricia Jenkins at 772-489-5676 or visit www.stophunger.org.

NEED HELP?

If you're in need of food assistance, contact the Treasure Coast Food Bank at 772-489-5676 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to find a partnering agency in your area or go to www.stophunger.org for a list of partners by county.

Copyright 2014 Fort Pierce Tribune   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 1140 days ago   Article ID# 1204931

Treasure Coast Food Bank    Visit Website

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