Manatee, Sarasota mayors gear up to feed the hungry

jtate@bradenton.comNovember 7, 2013 

MANATEE -- Manatee and Sarasota county mayors are gearing up for the annual Mayor's Feed the Hungry Holiday Food Drive designed to help feed more than 10,000 people.

The drive is a collaborative effort by eight mayors from Manatee and Sarasota counties, including Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant and Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston.

The two counties have set up various locations to drop off donations.

Bryant said Palmetto increased the number of drop-off locations this year.

"I'm really excited about participating this year," she said. "We really hope the community gets involved."

Palmetto City Hall and the Palmetto Police Department are drop-off locations for the food drive that runs Nov. 11-22. Other drop-off sites in Palmetto: Lincoln Middle School, Palmetto Elementary, Manatee School for the Arts, Palm View Elementary, Palmetto Charter School, Church on the Rock, Hide-Away Storage, Bel Mare at Riviera Dunes, Manatee Association of Realtors and the clubhouse at Palms of Terra Ceia.

In Bradenton, people can drop off donations to the Food Bank of Manatee, Bradenton City Hall and the Bradenton Police Department.

Poston said the recession is not over and many people need food.

"In Bradenton, this is the way the city operates. We help each other," said Poston. "And people really need the help."

For that same reason, Bryant said this event is close to her heart. "The more people who help, the more smiling faces," said Bryant.

Since it began in 1987, the Mayor's Feed the Hungry Program has distributed more than 200 tons of food and more than $2 million in food gift cards to the hungry in Sarasota and Manatee counties, said Joel Swallow, chairman of the foundation.

The program was implemented by former Sarasota Mayor Fredd Adkins to make sure families in need have a holiday meal.

"Two out of five kids are at-risk of being hungry. Hunger is a real problem," said Swallow.

From noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 22 at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, foundation volunteers will gather all donations from across the two counties. Swallow said volunteers are welcome to help gather food for distribution to local food banks and participating organizations.

"It's a wonderful community event that makes Thanksgiving extra special," said Swallow.

To make a donation visit mayorsfeedthehungry.org or options, locations and instructions on how to donate.

Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.

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