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  • Writer's pictureGil Zepeda

Farm Share seeks support of the Florida Legislature

In recent articles, our CEO Stephen Shelley has been quoted as follows: "More than‭ ‬3.5‭ ‬million Floridians,‭ ‬including‭ ‬850,000‭ ‬children,‭ ‬were food insecure even before the COVID-19‭ ‬pandemic turned the world upside down.‭ ‬When the pandemic hit,‭ ‬the number of Floridians in need of food soared.

In a state where the economy is largely driven by tourism and hospitality‭ – ‬industries disproportionately affected by the pandemic due to travel restrictions,‭ ‬closures,‭ ‬and social distancing measures‭ – ‬many Floridians found themselves out of work and turning for the first time to Farm Share,‭ ‬which provides wholesome food at no cost.‭ ‬Additionally,‭ ‬local and regional food banks throughout Florida were being inundated with requests for food assistance and looking for help to replenish their food stock.‭

In spite of incurring a‭ ‬$1.2‭ ‬million dollar budget cut in the‭ ‬2020/2021‭ ‬legislative budget,‭ ‬Farm Share rose to the challenge,‭ ‬connecting food-insecure Floridians with the nourishing food they need to survive,‭ ‬having distributed the equivalent of over‭ ‬100,000,000‭ ‬meals since the pandemic began.‭ Almost ‬90 percent‭ ‬of these meals were distributed by Farm Share’s nearly‭ ‬2,000‭ ‬statewide regional and local partner agencies that would not have been able to acquire sufficient food for their local communities if it weren’t for Farm Share.

Farm Share has worked tirelessly with its partner agencies to meet the increased demand for nutritious food that peaked at nearly‭ ‬600 percent.‭ ‬Compounding the challenge was the many parents who found themselves at home with children in virtual classrooms‭ – ‬many of whom typically get their only meals while attending school.‭ ‬The result was lines of cars that grew to‭ ‬5‭ ‬and‭ ‬10‭ ‬miles long as people lined up before dawn in hopes of accessing food at distributions coordinated by Farm Share and our network of agencies.‭

From April through July,‭ ‬Farm Share’s output more than doubled,‭ ‬averaging nearly‭ ‬4‭ ‬million pounds of food distributed weekly.‭ ‬From March through December‭ ‬2020,‭ ‬we distributed more than‭ ‬107‭ ‬million pounds of food.‭ ‬More than‭ ‬30‭ ‬million pounds of which was healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables thanks to our strong partnerships with Florida’s farmers who donate unsold or blemished product directly to Farm Share.‭ ‬Farm Share distributes all of its food free of charge with no costs or shared maintenance fees to persons in need or our partner agencies.‭"

Farm Share seeks the support of the Florida legislature this month in order to be able to operate up to needed levels. For more information as to why the legislature should fund Farm Share go to:

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