//All Faiths Food Bank needs help
All Faiths Food Bank needs help, Our Town Sarasota News Events

All Faiths Food Bank needs help

All Faiths Food Bank needs help filling empty plates for the holidays

Due to COVID-19, the past year deepened the region’s hunger crisis, skyrocketing demand.

By All Faiths Food Bank
All Faiths Food Bank needs help, Our Town Sarasota News Events

All Faiths Food Bank is turning its attention this fall to those who may be struggling during the holiday season. The region’s only food bank and largest hunger relief organization encourages the community to share the joy of helping others and embrace the true meaning of the holiday season by supporting its “ThankFULL” campaign.

The past year deepened the hunger crisis in our region.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, demand skyrocketed over the past year and has not retreated. In 2020, All Faiths saw a sharp increase in the number of community members using its services. It distributed 60% more meals than in 2019, comprising nearly 22.5 million pounds of food and 18.4 million meals. Of those using its programs and services, 49% were new clients. An astonishing 362% more users visited the organization’s website seeking food resources.

In order to meet the need, All Faiths expanded its partner network to nearly 200 agencies and significantly increased its monthly distributions. Currently, All Faiths’ Mobile Pantry Program provides fresh produce, meat and groceries at nearly 740 monthly distributions — those that are open to the public as well as those at restricted sites (such as schools and partner agencies). Already this year, All Faiths has distributed almost 40% more food than it did in the year prior to the pandemic.

COVID-19 still dictates our lives. As the financial impact continues to be felt — particularly for our neighbors who are most at-risk — there will be even more empty plates and tummies this holiday season.

“Our numbers clearly show that our neighbors are still suffering,” said All Faiths Food Bank’s CEO Sandra Frank. “The urgency is as intense as ever. With the support of our community, we can help families heal from the pandemic by providing a holiday celebration and healthy meals.”

All Faiths Food Bank needs help, Our Town Sarasota News Events

Hunger has a significant and long-lasting impact on children.

There are serious health consequences for hungry kids as well as significant impacts that put their prospects for future success at risk. Children who are hungry lack focus, have more difficulty with short-term memory, may be less social and are more prone to illness than children from food-secure homes. Hunger-related toxic stress can negatively affect brain development and severe hunger can lead to chronic illnesses.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 1 in 4 American families with school-age children don’t have reliable access to food. Poverty isn’t just something that happens in other places, to other people — friends and neighbors in this region are suffering, too. In Sarasota, 37% of households struggle to afford basic needs and, in DeSoto County, that figure jumps to 60%. And those are pre-pandemic numbers.

For 16 years, All Faiths Food Bank has worked to provide food for our neighbors in need during the holidays.

Hunger doesn’t take a break during the holidays. In fact, for children receiving reduced-price or free lunches at school, the holidays can actually exacerbate food insecurity as these meals aren’t available when schools are closed.

The holidays are the perfect time for people to reflect, practice gratitude for what they have and find ways to share the joys of the season. While All Faiths works to provide nutritional assistance all year long, the ThankFULL campaign offers the perfect opportunity for generous members of the local community to contribute meaningfully to help friends and neighbors in need.

Over the years, All Faiths Food Bank has steadily expanded its efforts to provide food through the ThankFULL campaign. The effort has been made possible through the generosity of individual and corporate gifts as well as ongoing, annual support from the Kathleen K. Catlin Foundation Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

All Faiths Food Bank needs help, Our Town Sarasota News Events

You can help All Faiths Food Bank fill empty plates and tummies.

Through October and November, All Faiths’ ThankFULL Tummies campaign helps to provide holiday meals for Thanksgiving. Throughout the month of December, the ThankFULL Hearts campaign raises funds to provide holiday meals for area children, families, seniors and veterans.

With the community’s support, All Faiths hopes to distribute more than 12,500 turkeys and sides, and a total of 3.2 million holiday meals through the end of this year.

To learn more about All Faiths Food Bank or to help turn empty plates into ThankFULL Tummies and Hearts by making a donation, visit allfaithsfoodbank.org or call 941-379-6333.