Challenge issued to fight hunger crisis in Manatee County

MANATEE -- In January, the Food Bank of Manatee had 250,000 pounds of food on its warehouse shelves. Now, it has only 25,000 pounds.

"That's not acceptable," said County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who called a joint press conference Wednesday with School Board member Julie Aranibar to address the crisis.

Standing in front of bare food bank shelves, Whitmore and Aranibar issued a challenge for government, businesses and individuals to do more to fight hunger in Manatee County.

Serving 100 agencies and food banks that distribute food to 60,000 people monthly, the Food Bank of Manatee was 85 percent empty on Tuesday.

"This is something that is a major emergency in Manatee County," Whitmore said.

The hunger epidemic affects families across the county, including between 2,000 and 3,000 school children who are homeless, Aranibar said.

"We have been through a tough summer and now we are at a crossroads," Aranibar said.

For any business or individual that would like to help, contact Cindy Sloan, food bank director, at 941-747-3663 or csloan@foodbankofmanatee.org.