Temple Shir Shalom's 2018 High Holiday Food Drive recently delivered 1,726 pounds of food to the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank, which will provide 1,438 meals for those in need. Once again, Stuart Bilsky provided his trailer to collect and transport your donations to the Bread of the Mighty warehouse, along with the help of Sharon and Andy Hirshik.
This year, Sharon and Andy met with Marcia Conwell, President/CEO of Bread of the Mighty, to get a better understanding of the scope of its operations. This year, Bread of the Mighty estimates that they have distributed about 8 million pounds of food in Alachua, Dixie, Levy, Gilchrist and Lafayette counties. That's an increase in half a million pounds from last year.
How is the food actually distributed? Bread of the Mighty delivers to mobile pantries in all five counties. Volunteers, many from faith-based organizations, staff those mobile pantries and distribute bags of food to waiting lines of people. Bread of the Mighty has also established nine food pantries in schools, six of them in Alachua County. The school pantries alone cost Bread of the Mighty $250,000 a year and there are more schools on their waiting list. The homeless receive food from Bread of the Mighty through Grace Market Place. Seniors in need are given free food through agency partners of Bread of the Mighty.
Marcia described to Sharon and Andy some of the secret heroes in our community, like the wife of a former Eastside High School football coach who was spending almost his whole paycheck to feed his players, some of whom were so hungry they would pass out on the field. This couple arranged to pick up food every day from Bread of the Mighty to feed the hungriest players to keep them healthy.
While food distribution is of upmost importance to Bread of the Mighty, the organization is in a position to indentify other needs as well. When Marcia noticed that the coach selected detergent from the Bread of the Mighty shelves, she investigated further. It turned out that homeless students were washing clothes in the sinks at the school. Going beyond food distribution, Marcia found a way to donate a washer and dryer.
Whatever food you may have donated, you have helped Marcia Conwell and Bread of the Mighty in their mission of "changing lives, one meal at a time."