This holiday season, hunger remains a serious problem in Broward County. Those going without food include children, our neighbors and in some cases, our co-workers. To some people, it may feel like the economy is rebounding, but many others still struggle to make ends meet. And that includes putting food on the table, especially as the cost of living continues to increase.
As Thanksgiving approaches, you will be asked to donate money, food and time to organizations throughout South Florida. All of them help people in need. But The Poverello Center is unique.
For more than 25 years, Poverello has provided food and basic life essentials to nearly 2,500 youth, women and men living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses living at or below the poverty level. According to the company, it is the only special needs food pantry in our area and one of the only ‘consumer choice’ pantries in the country.
“Our goal is that no indigent HIV client, especially the most needy go with out food,” said Arlie Smith, a volunteer with Poverello’s Development Department Staff.
Over the past few years, The Poverello Center has offered turkeys, stuffing, cranberries and other side dishes as part of a proper and nutritious holiday meal. While it would cost a family about $35 for this meal, The Poverello Center offers them for less – around $15 each.
This year, Poverello’s goal is to provide 2,000 holiday meals to families in need.
“Many individuals live alone or don’t have anywhere to go for the holidays,” said Thomas Smith, Poverello’s Chief Executive Officer. “We are committed to brightening their season with a joyful and nutritious meal and encourage others to help us feed one or more families by making a donation. We are grateful to our generous supporters who recognize that we need their help now more than ever.”
This year’s food drive comes at a critical time. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia recently published their statistics affirming that Broward County leads the nation in newly diagnosed HIV cases. That, coupled with the continued economic downturn has led to a grim reality: One out of every six newly diagnosed households in Broward County will go to bed hungry this evening.
"We are also seeing and an increase in clients need for food due to the fact that other food pantries are experiencing cut backs. In the up coming months we are expecting this trend to increase as the government reduces the SNAP or food stamp program by $38 per person per month," says Brad Gammel, Poverello’s Food Bank Quality Manager.
There are many ways that you can help. You can visit www.Poverello.org and go to the Ways to Help button and click on Virtual Food Drive. In addition, look for servers in restaurants throughout Wilton Manors wearing Hunger Fighter buttons. Those servers are helping Poverello by asking patrons to round up the dollar amount of their meal check to raise money for the food drive. Look for Poverello’s canned goods donation boxes around town to give food. And last but not least customers who come in to shop at the Poverello Thrift Store get a 10 percent discount when they bring in two items of canned food from now until Christmas.