All Faiths Food Bank Works to Fill Summer Hunger Gap

Hunger relief organization again partners with Sarasota County Schools, libraries, numerous other organizations to feed children while school is out.

Nearly half of the 43,000 students enrolled at Sarasota County schools participate in free and reduced meal programs while, in DeSoto County, all of the nearly 5,000 enrolled students rely on these meals during the school year. But when school ends, students don’t enjoy the benefit of those meals.

For the past eight years, in order to fill the “hunger gap” for children who lose access to meals and food pantries at school, All Faiths Food Bank annually launches its Campaign Against Summer Hunger, which includes fundraising and then using those funds to secure and distribute food to children in need. This year – with the support of lead investors the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, and William G. and Marie Selby Foundation as well as numerous generous members of the community – All Faiths exceeded its goal of $1.6 million to serve at least 35,000 students and siblings over the course of the summer.

In order to reach as many area children as possible, All Faiths Food Bank works with numerous partners, including Sarasota and DeSoto County Schools’ Food and Nutrition Services (FNS). During FNS distributions at select school campuses, All Faiths provides supplemental food resources: backpacks filled with healthy foods and snacks and boxes of fresh produce. 

The next school distributions take place on Tuesday, June 22, 9-11 a.m. at Fruitville Elementary School and North Port and Venice High Schools. (For further dates and locations, visit allfaithsfoodbank.org.)

“We are so thankful for the generosity of All Faiths Food Bank and the community at-large," commented Sarasota County Schools’ Food & Nutrition Services Director Sara Dan. “Our district has participated in the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program for children for over 20 years. The supplemental help we receive from the Campaign allows us to provide food resources for entire families as well, all in one place! Removing accessibility barriers has a tremendous impact on the wellbeing of our overall school communities during the months where food insecurity is usually the highest.”

During the summer months, All Faiths will provide supplemental food at 25 area school sites. Other partners/distribution sites also include Sarasota County Libraries, 28 early learning and childcare programs, 41 school pantry distributions and 144 mobile pantry distributions; 75 sites are distributing over 47,000 backpacks filled with nutritious foods. 

“When school ends, hunger begins for far too many children in our region,” said All Faiths CEO Sandra Frank. “We are so grateful to our lead investors as well as every community member who contributed to the Campaign. Thanks to their generosity, tens of thousands of area children will have access to food in convenient locations throughout the summer.”

Over the years, the Campaign has raised tremendous awareness of the issue of child hunger in our community as well as the gratifying total of more than $12 million since its inception. Returning to co-chair the effort this year are Keith Monda and Veronica Brady, who helped to co-found the effort in 2014.

All Faiths Food Bank is the only food bank and largest hunger relief organization in Sarasota and DeSoto counties. Rated 4-stars by Charity Navigator and a member of Feeding America, we provide millions of meals each year through robust programs and partnerships with charitable organizations in the community. In addition to food distribution, All Faiths Food Bank operates a roster of innovative direct service programs that not only solve the immediate problem of hunger but strive to end hunger by helping families and individuals gain long-term food security, better health outcomes and self-sufficiency.

To learn more about All Faiths or to help children who might otherwise go hungry, go to allfaithsfoodbank.org or call 941-379-6333.

PHOTO ID: Community members Paola and Fabiana Gomez during a school pantry at Gocio Elementary School.