SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - According to the All Faiths Food Bank, hunger has reached a crisis point. In an effort to meet the increasing need of the community due to the financial impact of the Coronavirus and to find and serve the hungry, All Faiths Food Bank has adjusted its operations, added staff, trucks and food distributions, and is using new outreach methods to ensure those who are struggling know where to find help.
With an approximately 120% increase in distribution and a nearly 45% increase in new clients at its mobile pantries since mid-March, All Faiths Food Bank has adapted to the crisis by changing its operations and adding resources and staff in order to expand and enhance services, and more efficiently find and feed those who are hungry. Five of the 10 zip codes that All Faiths is either bringing entirely new service to or expanding existing services are in central Sarasota in these zip codes: 34231, 34232, 34234, 34236 and 34237.
In early March, representatives from the Feeding Florida Network – including All Faiths Food Bank CEO and current Feeding Florida Board Chair, Sandra Frank – gathered to announce the results of a study, the Meal Deficit Metric, that will change the way food banks address hunger in their communities.
The Meal Deficit Metric has been updated to include new COVID-related unemployment and SNAP data. This unique model will help provide a more accurate representation of the number of missing meals and resources needed in communities across Florida.
All Faiths hired a researcher to analyze the Meal Deficit Metric with the goal of identifying new areas with insufficient or no services. Armed with this information, All Faiths explored where it can engage new agency partners, hold additional mobile pantries, and supplement its staff. Since mid-March, All Faiths has added employees including benefit specialists, outreach workers, agency relations, data analysis, warehouse and transportation.
Seventeen new food distributions have been added for a total of more than 315 monthly distributions, with further sites being developed. Three new trucks have been added to its transport fleet. Communications outreach has been expanded – using methods such as targeted postcards, social media and billboards – to better reach those who may not know where to find assistance.
“As the pandemic continues to hit our community hard, we’re working harder and smarter to find people who may never have had to ask for help before,” said Board Chair Sandra Frank. “Families are experiencing hardships regardless of their financial background and those hardships make it difficult to put food on the table. We want anyone who is struggling to feed their families to know that we are here for them with food and support.”
To learn more about All Faiths, or to find out how you can donate and/or volunteer, go to allfaithsfoodbank.org or call 941-379-6333.