Solving hunger is an immense and complex problem, but that is the single mission of Feeding Northeast Florida, a large non-profit organization that serves eight Florida counties. Thanks to their work, food goes to food pantries, health care clinics, and meal programs that serve families, children, seniors, and individuals at risk of hunger.
Working with partner agencies like City Rescue Mission, the Sulzbacher Center and the Salvation Army, they serve 85,000 people in need every day.
That’s why Darlene Batten, accounting services manager, chose the organization to receive an Atlantic Cares monthly donation.
“From what I have learned, they are doing great work for the community. I'm relatively new to Florida, and I've been impressed,” Batten said. “Prices have gone up quite a bit in the last few years, and it's essential that everyone has access to quality food.”
According to Susan King, president and CEO of Feeding Northeast Florida, Batten is exactly right. While the COVID pandemic was a huge problem, the rise in food prices has also been a major challenge.
“We saw an immediate and dramatic increase in the need for food assistance for our neighbors as they struggled with layoffs and economic uncertainty,” King said. “As a food bank that relies heavily on donated food to feed our community, we saw donations drop as the grocery store shelves were bare, resulting in substantially less food available for donation.”
King added that the bigger difficulties have come more recently as monetary donations declined as the effects of the pandemic lessened. “The impact of rising and profound inflation caused many who had never needed food assistance before to seek help. The demand for food assistance remains twenty percent higher than at the height of COVID,” she said.
King also emphasized that these sorts of challenges would never change their core mission.
“Whether hurricane, pandemic, economic downturn, or just the ‘speedbumps’ in life that cause our neighbors to seek help, Feeding Northeast Florida has been there and will continue to be there until we are not needed: our ultimate objective,” King said.
She also noted that while Feeding Northeast Florida depends on donations from food and grocery manufacturers, shippers, growers, community food drives and individuals, they also rely on the thousands of volunteers who sort, label, box and help to distribute the food.
If you are interested in volunteering or donating, more information is available at their website, www.feedingnefl.org.