Forced to close food pantry, Bradenton Salvation Army counting on Fall Food Drive

vmannix@bradenton.comAugust 16, 2013 

Salvation Army Manatee County hopes to restock empty pantry shelves after Fall Food Drive. Vin Mannix/Bradenton Herald.

BRADENTON -- "Sally's Pantry" is closed until further notice.

Due to a shortage of food and cash donations, the Salvation Army of Manatee County closed its pantry Thursday at the agency complex at 1204 14th St. W.

Wednesday was the last day patrons could receive food.

"Sadly, we are just out,"said Julia Showers, agency program director/business administrator. "Our shelves are empty."

All that remained were beans -- black beans, red beans, white beans, green beans -- but no staples such as canned meat, canned fruit, cereal, macaroni and cheese, oatmeal or soup.

More than 200 families receive food from "Sally's Pantry" each month, but demand has surpassed supply.

"It's been a couple of years since we've been completely empty, but the need has been so great we can't keep up with it," said Christine Smith, resource and program development director.

Virtually all pantry food is from individual donations, the bulk of it coming from fall and spring food drives.

"Our pantry isn't meant to provide food for families for the whole month," Showers said. "The goal is to help families supplement their food needs to ease the burden of rising grocery bills."

Salvation Army officials hope to reopen the pantry later this year or in early 2014. It depends on the success of the annual Fall Food Drive, Oct. 14-Nov. 29.

"We expect the to bring in about 45,000 pounds of food," Showers said.

The Food Bank of Manatee is holding its own "Grand Challenge" to restock its shelves in September.

"It is not our intent to compete with the Food Bank," Smith said. "Both of us are providing an essential service, but in some cases I'm sure of some overlap."

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannixofof

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