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  • Writer's pictureGil Zepeda

To Feeding South Florida: Let's Fight Hunger and not each other.

After seeing the negative effect this ongoing public fight was having on the employees, supporters and partner agencies of both organizations, the community in general and the fight against hunger, I felt compelled to pen an op-ed asking to end this nonproductive fighting.

Farm Share will continue to defend its reputation and fairly awarded contracts when the actions of others requires us to do so. ~ Team Farm Share

Published by the Sun Sentinel (Link above) and written by Farm Share CEO Stephen Shelley

"Farm Share is grateful to have been recently selected by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) to administer The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami Dade Counties in South Florida as well 15 additional counties in Central and North Florida.

Therefore, it was disappointing when Feeding South Florida, who finished second to Farm Share in the competitive bid process, launched a misinformation campaign to raise doubts about Farm Share’s ability to deliver on its promise and stoked unfounded fears about an interruption in the supply of food, specifically related to Broward County.

It was not unusual that a second place bid finisher would file a bid protest - a process that is still ongoing. However, what was unusual and surprising, was Feeding South Florida’s intense and orchestrated dissemination of misleading and outright false information. This ongoing campaign disserves the facts, the truth, and the hungry people both organizations are committed to serving. It is shameful that a mission-based organization that prides itself on service, integrity, and stewardship would put its self-interest first and wage a campaign to frighten hungry and vulnerable Floridians.

Contrary to the assertions made, Farm Share has the experience, knowledge and resources to feed Broward and Palm Beach Counties and was awarded its contracts by an impartial five (5) person panel of evaluators who are experts in the TEFAP and food distribution arena.

A homegrown food bank, Farm Share has more than 30 years of food banking experience, with 25 of those administering the TEFAP program in major metropolitan and rural counties alike. Farm Share is the largest independent food bank in Florida and the 3rd largest independent food bank in the United States. Using its fleet of semi-trucks, refrigerated box trucks and refrigerated semi-trailers, Farm Share is able receive and distribute food from Pensacola to Key West and everywhere in between.

During these troubled times, when food banks around the country worked together to feed millions during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is disheartening that two (2) of South Florida’s most well-known food banks are wasting valuable resources on fighting each other. One spreading misinformation that necessitated the defense by the other of its attacked reputation and its rightly awarded contracts.

This fight is not good for our organizations, our communities, our partner agencies and most importantly the hungry families, children, seniors and individuals that we both work hard and sacrifice to feed every day. Let’s end this fight, respect the TEFAP award process and get back to our mission of fighting hunger."

Stephen Shelley is the CEO of Farm Share.

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