SARASOTA, Fla. – A special service for former members of the United States military, known as the Veteran’s Pantry, provides produce, meats, breads and shelf-stable dry goods to veterans for free, has been running at All Faiths Food Bank for more than five years. Over time, the pantry has grown to draw and serve an average of 140 veterans. This number has doubled over the past three years. Veterans receive an average of sixty pounds of food with each visit. With an average of 2.5 people per household served, 350 people are benefiting from the veteran’s pantry every other week. While growth is wonderful, the need is dire: according to the 2011 US Census Bureau, there are more than 40,000 veterans living in Sarasota County, and more than one third of them live either with a disability or below poverty level.
2017 Veteran’s Pantry Schedule:
Veterans with military ID are welcome to pick up food at Church of the Palms on Tuesdays, from 10 a.m. to noon - Feb 14 & 28, Mar 14 & 28, Apr 11 & 25, May 9 & 23, Jun 13 & 27, Jul 11 & 25, Aug 8 & 22, Sep 12 & 26, Oct 10 & 24, Nov 14 & 28, Dec 12 & 26
Many of the men and women who attend the veterans’ pantry have become close with the volunteers and staffers who help to run it. While staff at the area’s only food bank is a bit sad to see the pantry go, there is a sense that the new location will be a much more convenient place to serve former members of the military who are in need. “We are very proud to serve these heroes,” said Sandra Frank, of CEO All Faiths Food Bank. “Our veterans shouldn’t be hungry at any time of the year. We are grateful for their sacrifice, and it is our honor to serve them.”
The veteran’s pantry has moved to Church of the Palms, on Bee Ridge Road, and will continue serving those who may need it, on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, starting February 14, 2017. John Livingston, COO of All Faiths Food Bank, hopes that the move to Church of the Palms will bring more veterans to the pantry. “If the veterans’ pantry is more centrally located, we will draw a larger group,” said Livingston. He added, “they are going to love the new spot. It will be very comfortable for them: more parking, more shade and more space to spread out.”
Veterans (with military ID) who need food are welcome to attend, and encouraged to bring bags and boxes to carry the food. All Faiths Food Bank, with the support of generous donors, subsidizes this program 100%, so there is no cost to anyone, including the US Department of Veterans Affairs for food or delivery. Gifts in support of the Veterans Appreciation Program are appreciated year-round, either online at allfaithsfoodbank.org or by calling 941-379-6333.