The end is near -- the end of the 2014 Grand Challenge campaign to stock the shelves and the bank account of the Food Bank of Manatee. Launched in late May, the conclusion comes on Sept. 1.
But there's never an end to hunger.
This year marks the third for the Grand Challenge, an effort led by community leaders to inspire businesses and individuals to contribute to feeding the homeless, the unemployed, the working poor, struggling families, needy seniors and others.
The challenge is issued to businesses, clubs and civic organizations to raise 1,000 pounds of food, $1,000 in cash or a combination of the two.
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This year's totals to date stand at some 50,000 pounds of food (with four companies surpassing 1,000 pounds) and around $31,000 in cash (with 10 gifts of $1,000 or more.
Here's another challenge: While last year's campaign collected more than 49,000 pounds of food, the 2012 version bagged 69,000 pounds. Can Manatee County outshine that latter figure this year?
The Food Bank of Manatee's annual distribution totals reflect the somewhat overwhelming need from our neighbors -- some might even be family and friends.
The nonprofit provides edibles to more than 100 food pantries, churches, soup kitchens and other agencies serving individuals and families in crisis.
In 2012, the Food Bank distributed of 3.7 million pounds; in 2013, the figure reached 4.2 million pounds.
The so-called end to the Great Recession did not turn things around for quite a few of our neighbors.
Want to pitch in? Check for a Food Bank donation barrel at grocery stores and other businesses. Or check how to donate at foodbankofmanatee.org or call 941-747-3663.
Know someone who needs help; call 2-1-1 to find a Food Bank partner agency that can help.