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Food distribution event draws attention to need

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By Cheri Harris

The long line of vehicles spoke volumes.

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This line of traffic was for those from Gadsden, Leon, Liberty, Jefferson, Franklin and Wakulla counties who came to a community food distribution Nov. 5 at the Farm Share facility in Quincy.

According to Farm Share spokeswoman Mia DeVane, this giveaway event provided more than 80,000 pounds of food to 860 households representing more than 3,050 individuals.

DeVane said this distribution was special because Farm Share doesn’t typically open its doors to individuals to self-certify that they meet Farm Share’s low-income requirements to be eligible for the free food. For this distribution, Farm Share partnered with the Florida Department of Children and Families.

“It’s more of a special event,” DeVane said.

DeVane said Farm Share typically gives food out to other nonprofit organizations that, in turn, take the food into neighborhoods and communities and distribute it through means such as food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, senior centers to meet individual needs.

“The idea is to have the food in the community,” she said.

During the community distribution, DeVane said participants could receive fresh produce including zucchini, bell peppers, avocados and cucumbers as well as juices and other drinks. Disaster relief blankets and other miscellaneous items were also available.

Farm Share in Quincy has been in operation for three years. In an April 30 community distribution event, Farm Share provided food for 2,212 individuals and on Nov. 7, 2012, a community food distribution served 1,575 individuals.

“The number of low-income individuals in need (of) food attending the special food distributions has consistently increased,” DeVane said in an email response to a reporter’s questions.

“Also increasing is the number of community partners Farm Share works with to distribute donated food every weekday throughout the Big Bend Region. This year, Farm Share more than doubled its community agencies in North Florida. There are now about 150 nonprofit groups that receive from the Quincy facility. These organizations, mostly small churches, are picking up an abundance of food from Farm Share and taking it back to their communities in need,” DeVane wrote. “The food reaches a monthly average of more than 13,000 families from Century to Eastpoint, Quincy to Tallahassee, Bristol to Live Oak and many other places in between.” 

Farm Share administers a combination of USDA commodity programs and fresh produce recovery operations from two packing houses provided by the Florida Department of Agriculture. One is in Homestead; the other is in Quincy. Farm Share was established in 1991. 

Times Executive Editor Cheri Harris can be reached at 850-627-7649 or editor@gadcotimes.com.