MANATEE -- The Manatee County Food Bank is reaching out to the community for help as its supplies are almost depleted.
Among the first to help mobilize the community are the United Way and Publix Super Markets.
The food bank requested emergency help from United Way, which noted that the situation is worse than in 2008 when similar aid was needed.
“Donations are lower than normal, and children of low-income families are not receiving breakfast and lunch meals that are provided during the school year,” said Jerry Koontz, United Way president.
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Organizations are being asked to donate non-perishable food and money to purchase perishable food.
“We shouldn’t allow hunger to exist in our community,” said Ellen Campbell, president and CEO of Meals on Wheels Plus. “Many of our families do not know where their next meal will be coming from.
“They include hard-working families who cannot make ends meet -- parents in minimum-wage jobs and children going to bed on empty stomachs,” she said. “Please help us do something about this need by helping us to fill our shelves.”
The United Way is providing food drive kits to help companies conduct their own food drives. Non-perishable food and monetary donations should be delivered to the food bank at 811 23rd Ave. E, Bradenton, 34208. All contributions are tax-deductible.
Publix plans to have food barrels in each of its Manatee stores for collecting donated food as it is purchased. One suggestion: Use Publix’s Buy One Get One Free specials, and donate the free item.
To arrange for a food barrel to be delivered or picked up, call food bank director Cindy Sloan with the food bank at 747-FOOD (3663). You can also stop by the Bradenton Herald at 102 Manatee Ave. W and drop off food donations in a barrel there.
“Our shelves are dangerously low,” Sloan said Monday. “There is so much need out here. And we’re always ready for an onslaught of food. We are extremely dedicated to feeding those in need.”