Kudos to campaign to end food crisis at Manatee Food Bank

While there are a number of compelling reasons to support the Food Bank of Manatee during the current emergency, one stands head and shoulders above the others: the shocking number of homeless students in Manatee schools, put at 1,600, who no doubt suffer from hunger as well.

The Food Bank's shelves are nearly barren of non-perishable goods, down from 250,000 pounds of food in January to a mere 25,000 today.

This vital charity serves 100 agencies and pantries that distribute food to 60,000 people a month. The need is great with hunger so widespread, but the situation is desperate with the Food Bank so perilously close to completely empty shelves.

To help spur community donations, Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore and School Board member Julie Aranibar joined forces to challenge businesses, clubs, governments and others to pitch in now.

Their so-called Grand Challenge, formally issued Thursday, asks these groups of citizens to donate 1,000 pounds of food, $1,000 in cash or any combination of the two during September, Hunger ACtion Month.

The unemployed, the working poor and the homeless need a life preserver. Several community groups have already pledged support, and kudos to them -- and to Aranibar and Whitmore as well for issuing their challenge.

To join this initiative or help in any way, contact Cindy Sloan, food bank director, at 941-747-3663 or csloan@foodbankofmanatee.org.

No donation is too small, even just a few cans placed inside a Food Bank barrel. To obtain one of thos barrels, contact Sloan.