Food drives provide meals for community

North Florida residents are providing food for many families in need during the upcoming holiday season.

According to a press release from America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend, the organization sponsors several food drives in the Tallahassee area.

StarMetro, Tallahassee area’s bus service, held their seventh annual “Stuff the Bus” food drive last week. As part of the drive, citizens can use non-perishable canned items to fill an actual bus. Once the bus is loaded, the collections are distributed to families. Cheryl Phoenix, executive director of ASH of the Big Bend, said Winn Dixie supermarkets participated in the “Stuff the Bus,” drive, by serving as a collection site. Phoenix said they collected more than 1,000 pounds of food for families.

She said Publix supermarkets serve as collection sites and Gainesville residents are involved.

“There is a Florida State University and a University of Florida challenge,” she said. “Both schools compete to collect food for the Make-a-Play foundation, and whoever wins gets a cash contribution.”

Phoenix said Publix usually does well in their drives.

Jennifer Roberts, a representative from America’s Second Harvest said Florida A&M’s Rattlers have also made donations for the holidays in the FAMU Food Fight.

“FAMU Food Fight is an annual food drive competition with 10 organizations on campus,” Roberts said. “Credits are given for donating food, and at the end of the contest, winners are recognized in an award ceremony.”

The FAMU Food Fight collected 177 pounds of food.

Roberts said several campus organizations were involved, including Progressive Black Men, the National Council of Negro Women and both the freshman and sophomore classes.

Gloria Mason, a junior business student from Alexandria, Va., said she is proud of their results.

“It’s good that the community takes the initiative to help struggling families during the holidays,” she said. “If this type of help occurred year round, maybe the economy would be in better shape.”

Phoenix said ASH Food Bank disburses the collected food.

“The food will go throughout 10 counties in the Big Bend,” she said. “There are many agencies participating, and the food is distributed to different families.”

However, some needy families may still lose out.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think it will be enough,” she said. “We have had to turn people away before because the food ran out.”

Phoenix said the need has increased 30 to 100 percent in some areas, and will continue to climb.