As many families struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis, the holiday season can be a particularly tough time. The season of giving to help those families provide a happy holiday to loved ones is well underway.
On Wednesday, the season of giving hit the heart of Bradenton, in the 1900 block of 14th Street West, but for Carl and Vicki Snyder it’s a never-ending mission. The couple founded the local chapter of Hungers End America about two years ago and operate the nonprofit food pantry and clothes closet in an area where they saw the most need.
“So many of these people who come here aren’t homeless,” Vicki Snyder said. “They are people who have to choose to buy food or pay bills.”
If I don’t have to buy things like rice and bread, it helps me buy gas to take my boy to school and to the doctor. He has ADHD, so he requires a lot of special attention.
The food pantry serves primarily low-income families. Snyder said the need is great.
“When we first started, we were across the street serving out of one room and we had about 50 families,” she said. “It’s grown very quickly and we had to expand. We serve about 600 families a month.”
The organization also serves a meal from 6-7 p.m. every Monday night. Those attending the meals are primarily homeless. Hunger Ends partners with local churches and businesses and Sonny’s BBQ is stepping up this Monday. The food pantry and clothes closet are open twice a month from 10 a.m. until noon.
Wednesday featured a little something extra special for those in need. Hunger Ends included in their regular food baskets a Publix gift card made possible by donations through the annual Mayors Feed the Hungry program. Since 1987, the program has distributed more than 200 tons of food and collected $2 million in gift cards in Manatee and Sarasota counties.
They are people who have to choose to buy food or pay bills.
Vicki Snyder, co-founder of Hunger Ends
Snyder said those relying on these types of services rarely fail to show their appreciation.
“They love it,” Snyder said. “There are a lot of ‘thank yous’ and it’s just a blessing to help them through a rough time. They are also very helpful and they help unload the truck, wanting to feel like they are earning it. They are all very appreciative.”
Standing in the middle of a very long line Wednesday stretching around the block on 14th Street West was a thankful Amelia Robuck.
“It’s very good what they do for us,” Robuck said. “God is very good and every little bit helps. If I don’t have to buy things like rice and bread, it helps me buy gas to take my boy to school and to the doctor. He has ADHD, so he requires a lot of special attention.”
Snyder said she, her husband and the volunteers who help with the food pantry do what they do, mainly “because we saw a need. But the mission statement is ending hunger in America one community at a time.”
The organization operates on a deeper faith, quoting Matthew 25:35 in the Bible, which states, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”