Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Food Pantry Seeks Community Support at a Critical Time; Demand Increases When School's out for Summer: 'We See the Need'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Food Pantry Seeks Community Support at a Critical Time; Demand Increases When School's out for Summer: 'We See the Need'

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey

Anyone who insists a widespread economic recovery is underway should visit Jewish Family & Community Services when its emergency food pantry is giving boxes and bags of food to the needy, said Executive Director Colleen Rodriguez.

The pantry annually serves about 77,000 meals to 8,600 people in five counties. Typically, 20 to 30 families are waiting when the pantry opens Tuesdays and Thursdays for two hours each day. But as many as 200 people have shown up.

"One out of five people in Duval County go to bed hungry," said Rodriguez. "That scares me. We see the need."

Winn-Dixie has long sponsored the food pantry, with grants and a discount on food purchases. The almost century-old social services agency also welcomes monetary and nonperishable food donations from the community.

A special fundraising push - the annual Feed A Needy Neighbor Food Challenge - is underway. Through July 31 the Block Family Foundation will match monetary donations to the pantry, up to $10,000.

The push is in the summer because that's when demand tends to increase. Free- and reduced-price school lunches that many children rely on are not available during the school break, said Tamir Schlosser, Jewish Family & Community Services associate director of development.

The agency and the foundation "come together" to make up for those lost meals, she said.

Winn-Dixie, which has given the pantry $250,000 since 2003, encouraged the community to help out.

"We are proud of our long-standing partnership with Jewish Family & Community Services and their passion to help those who struggle with hunger," said Lakewood Winn-Dixie store director Kendrick Hobbs. "We support their efforts simply because it's the right thing to do."

Low-income adults and families who meet certain financial guidelines are eligible to get food up to three times a year. The amount of food they receive on a visit depends on the number of people in their household. …

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