Though Palm Beach County is known for its wealth, our county is also a community where many struggle daily to meet the most basic needs. In 2004, A study conducted by United Way of Palm Beach County and community partners found that 1 in 3 households with incomes less than or equal to $35,000 ran out of food before they had money to buy more. That result and others from the study served as a basis for the creation of the Palm Beach County Community Food Alliance, which in 2012 is evolving into the Palm Beach County Food Bank.
In the past, the Palm Beach County Community Food Alliance (CFA) efforts have been administered by United Way of Palm Beach County and focused on collaboration, coordination and cooperation among and between a myriad of organizations, companies, and agencies that are committed to ending hunger in our community. The goal of the CFA has been to assure that all Palm Beach County residents have access to and obtain safe, sufficient, culturally acceptable, and nutritious food through a sustainable system that maximizes self-reliance, social justice, and health.
In 2012, the goals, principles and most of the programs of the Community Food Alliance will be absorbed by the Palm Beach County Food Bank. Below is a list of some of the programs promoted and utilized to improve food access in Palm Beach County.
Gleaning is a process in which volunteers pick fresh fruits and vegetables that have been donated from local farmers. Gleaned food is then distributed through the Palm Beach County CFA free to many local community food providers with food pantries and major feeding sites that feed the hungry in Palm Beach County. In 2004, through a partnership among Christians Reaching Out to Society (C.R.O.S.) Ministries, Feed the Hungry Program at Village Baptist Church, United Way of Palm Beach County and R.C. Hatton Farm, the Gleaning Program was revived in Palm Beach County.
During last year’s gleaning season, 217,387 pounds of fresh produce was gleaned and distributed to more than 100 Palm Beach County nonprofits. This was made possible through the hard work and support of 1,720 volunteers. Gleaning season runs October through May.
If you would like to volunteer for a Gleaning project, please call C.R.O.S. Ministries at (561) 233-9009 ext.107. You may also volunteer online through United Way's Volunteer Center search for opportunities page. In keywords, type "gleaning."
In 2010, the CFA initiated a Backyard Gleaning program through C.R.O.S. Ministries and the City of Lake Worth, Florida. With the permission of homeowners, volunteers were able to harvest 650 pounds of mangos from trees in Lake Worth and distribute that fruit to agencies serving that area.
Any non-profit agency or organization interested in receiving gleaned or donated produce should contact (561) 670-2518 for an application.
Community Food Delivery Program
In order to increase the amount of nutritious food available to agencies in our community, the Palm Beach County Food Bank refrigerated trucks regularly pick up and deliver donated produce and recovered food from local businesses. In 2010, over 1.1 million pounds of food was distributed free of charge to agencies serving our hungry neighbors.
To learn more please contact the food bank at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (561) 670-2518.
Food Recovery Program
The USDA estimates that 180 billion pounds of food goes to waste annually in the United States, and that 32 billion pounds of that food is edible. This equates to approximately 158 million pounds of recoverable food being wasted in Palm Beach County. The Food Recovery Program recovers unused, prepared food that would otherwise be thrown out, from local businesses, hotels, festivals and venues. This food is then transported by refrigerated truck and distributed free of charge to local emergency food providers.
Donors are protected by the Federal Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act and Florida’s Jack Davis Florida Restaurant Lending a Helping Hand Act that specifically applies to prepared foods.
To become a food recovery partner, please contact either Perry or Jacquie at the Palm Beach County Food Bank. (561) 670-2518 or at email@example.com.
Food Safety Program
In order to ensure the health and well-being of those receiving emergency food assistance and to assure donors that the food they donate is being handled and prepared in the most safe manner, the CFA has established a Food Safety Program. Through this program, the Palm Beach County Food Bank partners with the University of Florida, Palm Beach County Extension/IFAS provides training on safe food handling. More than 115 individuals from over 65 agencies have completed the training using the “Volunteers Guide to Safe Food Handling” curriculum. In addition, through partnership with the Palm Beach County School Food Service, 40 individuals from 25 agencies have been trained and obtained ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification from the National Restaurant Association.
For information on training in safe food handling procedures, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through its partnerships with CBS 12 and United Way of Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach County Food Bank manages CBS 12's Project Thanksgiving™. Each year, working together, United Way of PBC, CBS 12 and its sponsors raised enough money to provide Thanksgiving meals to thousands of families in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee counties.
Agencies are required to preregister , no later than August 1st, in order to be eligible for this program. United Way and CBS 12 begin promoting and soliciting donations for CBS 12's Project Thanksgiving™ in September. All allocations to agencies are based on the amount of donations that are received.
Any agency wishing to be added to the Project Thanksgiving™ mailing list should contact email@example.com.
If you, or someone you know, is in need of food assistance, please contact 211, an information and referral line funded by United Way of Palm Beach County. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 211 provides quick and easy access to the public to the more than 5,000 programs in Palm Beach County that provide services locally. The programs, projects, and services United Way supports are registered with 211.
Just dial 2-1-1, or (561) 383-1111, to get access to the many services offered in our community. You may also check out 211's Web site at www.211palmbeach.org