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This Week

Winter Park community rallies to 'Feed the Need'

Erika Spence

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In our community, 172,590 children struggle with hunger, according to recent statistics from Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. The food bank works with more than 500 partner agencies in the region, 17 of which are here in Winter Park.

So, what can we do when these kids have no food? The answer: feed the need.

This fall the Winter Park community is breaking new ground in an effort to end hunger in Central Florida. Feed the Need, presented by Florida Distributing, Mayflower Retirement Community and Winter Park Memorial Hospital, is not your average food drive. It’s the first-of-its-kind, community-wide effort to raise funds for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida from Nov. 1 - 22.

“This is a tremendous effort that addresses a serious need in our community,” said Mayor Ken Bradley in a press release. “I commend the partners and sponsors in joining forces to help end hunger in Winter Park and Central Florida. I will be supporting them through this worthy endeavor.”

What started in 2008 as a collaborative effort between fraternities and sororities at Rollins College and Sodexo Food Services for a canned food drive has evolved over the years. The first year, students raised more than 3,700 pounds of food. In 2010, the campus reached out to the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce for support and the organization agreed to host a fall-themed happy hour event with the proceeds used to purchase food to add to the scales. The result was more than 16,000 pounds of food, which grew to nearly 31,000 pounds of food in 2012.

Now collaboration and commitment have been extended to the community as Rollins College, Sodexo and the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce add the city of Winter Park and Think Creative to the list of partners. This group, along with local businesses, schools, organizations, churches and residents are uniting in an effort to raise funds – $50,000 – for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

Instead of your average food drive, the fund drive will allow even more of our neighbors in need to be fed. Through the purchasing power of Second Harvest, for every $1 donated, up to $9 worth of grocery product is provided.

At the City Commission meeting on Oct. 28, Mayor Ken Bradley proudly proclaimed the month of November as “Feed the Need Month” in the city of Winter Park and a campaign kick-off event is scheduled for Oct. 31, at 10 a.m. at City Hall. To learn more about the campaign, form a fundraising team or learn about other events, visit feedtheneedwp.org. The campaign also has a Facebook page at facebook.com/feedtheneedwinterpark where updates and photos will be shared throughout the month of November.

With collaboration, commitment and community we know we can accomplish our goal!

Erika Spence is the senior director of marketing and communications at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce.