Searcy Denney Attorney, Brenda Fulmer and her family helped the Palm Beach County Food Bank feed more than 800 families this past weekend at Village Baptist Church in West Palm Beach.
Several times each month, volunteers spend their Saturday processing hundreds of pounds of produce that have been donated or obtained through the charity’s gleaning operations at various farming locations in the area. The volunteers are also involved in loading vehicles with meat, bread, fruits, vegetables, and non-perishable items. In the first 12 days of May of 2012, the PBC Food Bank collected and distributed more than 400,000 pounds of food to local families and charities.
According to the Food Bank, the need is much greater than anyone realizes and the numbers prove it:
Recent data tell us why hunger in Palm Beach County is today at record levels:
- 10% unemployment for the last several years
- Close to 30,000 foreclosures filed between 2010-2011
- More than 2,000 homeless residents
- 165,000+ residents currently receive supplemental nutrition assistance benefits (food stamps). This represents nearly a 200% increase from 2007-2011
- 50% of Palm Beach county students receive free or reduced-price lunch (closer to 90% in western Palm Beach County)
- The 211 Helpline has seen a 30% jump in calls for food over the past 12 months
- According to Feeding America, almost 17% of Palm Beach County residents often don’t know where their next meal will come from.
In 2011, the Community Food Trucks program rescued and collected 4.1 million pounds of food worth about $6.4 million, which was distributed for free to 124 local soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other food pantries.
It is estimated that it will take more than 40 million pounds of food to satisfy the current needs of this community, so the Palm Beach County Food Bank is expanding its efforts with the addition of refrigerated trucks, and is looking for a warehouse facility. The food bank is also involved in distribution of meals at Thanksgiving and a Food Recovery Program, which collects unused, prepared food from restaurants, hotels, festivals, and other events.