The Florida Community Food Pantry fundraised for fourteen years to secure funds to build a new pantry building, so when the need for a cargo van became apparent in 2018, the pantry recognized the need for patience once again.
Janet Picarelli, an ardent supporter of the pantry, seeded the fund in early 2019 by donating her stipend from coordinating the Florida Chamber of Commerce Farmers Market. Then last spring, the volunteers tried to win a Sprinter van contest by creating a 60 second video with the help of Roger Dowd and Adam Ramli. By the end of 2019, the pantry was transporting over 14,000 pounds monthly, twice the volume of 2017. On Valentine’s Day, an official fundraiser was launched.
Thanks to four generous donations to the van fundraiser in April, the Florida Community Food Pantry finally had enough money to purchase a low mileage used cargo van.
“Talk about timing! My minivan started flashing warning lights and shaking on our food bank trip last Tuesday. I recently crunched some numbers and realized she had helped us transport 193,902 pounds of food. She was ready for retirement. We picked up our new cargo van later that day!” says Beth Hartman Maas who volunteers as director of the pantry.
Recent events have brought keen awareness to the issue of food insecurity. It is anticipated the demand for food pantry services in the community will continue to grow. The Florida Community Food Pantry transported 29% more food in March and April. Last week, it made an unprecedented three trips to the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley. The new van will be able to accommodate the weekly needs in one trip.
“Our volunteers have been amazing. When a handful of high-risk volunteers had to step back, others stepped up. We’ve had to change our entire distribution model requiring more time and money. We spent $1,000 more on food in the first week of our modified curbside pickup. We’ve received tremendous financial support from organizations, businesses, and individuals from all over. In this time of uncertainty, we have witnessed the goodness and compassion of those who are committed to helping neighbors who are struggling. We’re blessed by hunger heroes throughout our community!” says Maas.