How to literally lend a hand to Food Bank of Manatee: package meals today

Hunger and survival are constant concerns at the Food Bank of Manatee. When warehouse shelves became bare this summer, that concern turned to consternation.

But the community rallied behind a Grand Challenge launched by two alarmed citizens, Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore and school board member Julie Aranibar. Those shelves got stocked presto. The September campaign put some 43,000 pounds of food on the shelves, 10 days later the amount rose to 52,000 pounds, and food continues to arrive. But it goes out quickly, too, to 60,000 people monthly.

Today, Nov. 3, residents have another opportunity to pitch in by packaging meals donated by an organization called Feeding Children Everywhere. To date, the Orlando-based nonprofit has provided 192,000 lentil-based casserole meals to our food bank.

With help from Manatee residents, the food bank hopes to assemble another 100,000 with volunteers hand-packaging these healthy meals during a special 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. event at Holmes Beach City Field, 5801 Marina Drive. Of those meals, 80,000 will be handed out in Manatee.

Feeding Children Everywhere representatives will be there, too, and there will be music and family fun. Nonperishable food -- think peanut butter, cereal and canned goods -- will be collected as well.

People can literally lend a hand in feeding the hungry at this Anna Maria Island event and enjoy some entertainment and fun at the same time. Maybe stroll down the beach, too, or swim. Is that not a win-win-win on a sun-splashed Saturday?

Information: 888-891-6447.