What do you think when you think of Sarasota?
When most people think of Sarasota, they think of the rolling white sand beaches, the rich arts and cultural community, and the seemingly endless options of shops and restaurants. What our vibrant community masks is an underlying problem of hunger and food insecurity.
"When school ends, hunger begins."
That's the motto of the Campaign Against Summer Hunger, an initiative taken on annually by All Faiths Food Bank. For the food bank, the problem is two-fold: first, the seasonal nature of Sarasota means that their cupboards are at their fullest when our snowbird residents are in town so when they leave, so does a big source of food and fund revenue for All Faiths; second, during the summer, children that are normally fed by free- or reduced-lunch (and sometimes -breakfast) programs at school now have to fend for themselves for food at home. 1/2 of Sarasota students benefit from these programs at school, so it is estimated that one in every two children go home to bare cupboards during the summer, and this doesn't include younger siblings that may not be of school-age yet.
As a member of the food bank's Summer Hunger Committee, I want to raise awareness of this often-overlooked, or even hidden, problem in our community. This year, the food bank aims to feed over 40,000 children over their summer via increasing their presence in the community: their number of food distributions goes up, they stock backpacks full of food for children at libraries and other community centers, they provide food to daycares and early childhood centers, and their partnership with Sarasota County Schools enables the schools to increase their reach and feed more kids hot meals every day. All in all, it is a very robust, comprehensive, and ambitious program that I'm proud to support.
Be part of the solution.
Until May 15th, contributions to the Campaign Against Summer Hunger are matched dollar-for-dollar by a group of investors, meaning every dollar you donate goes twice as far. Here are some other ways you can help.
- Donate - time or funds are both needed this time of year!
- Run a food drive.
- Increase awareness of both the problem AND the solution!
To find out more about how to help your neighbors in need, visit AllFaithsFoodBank.org.