Since the beginning of the year, We Care (formerly We Care Food Pantry in Homosassa) has widened its reach to ultimately serve all of Citrus County — and beyond.
Even beyond distributing food to people in need.
“Access Florida is now with us with SNAP — food stamps — and Medicaid sign up help,” said We Care executive director Laura Byrne. “And starting Sept. 17, we will have Medicare consultants here to help any senior in the community, because if you’ve tried to figure it out, you know how confusing it can be. So, we’ll have people here who understand the process to help.”
Access Florida is available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Medicare help will be available the same days/times beginning Tuesday, Sept. 17.
Byrne said in addition to the regular We Care food distribution, the nonprofit organization has started taking their mobile food pantry to locations in Chassahowitzka, Ozello and Homosassa and will be adding Beverly Hills and Istachatta.
People receive a box filled with nonperishable food, plus assorted produce, meat, bakery goods and sometimes dairy, depending on availability.
“Even though Istachatta isn’t in Citrus County, the site will serve people from Floral City as well as Lake Panasoffkee and Nobleton, which are all areas that have great needs,” Byrne said.
She added that they’ve recently partnered with Citrus United Way’s Mission United program and they (Mission United) will have a representative at mobile pantry locations to assist veterans.
“I want to blanket the county with these pantries,” Byrne said.
In August, the We Care mobile pantry outreach served 115 people in Old Homosassa, 88 in Ozello and 77 in Chassahowitzka — and the numbers are growing each month.
Also in the works: We Care Bistros.
“What we’d like to see are bistros — ‘soup kitchens’ — in locations all around the community,” Byrne said. “Our overall plan is to have a We Care Bistro and the mobile pantry, plus the veterans, SNAP, Medicaid and Medicare help all at the same time and place so people can have a hot meal and leave with a box of groceries.”
Ideally, Byrne said she wants to be able to provide as many services in one spot as she can, because she knows transportation is a huge issue for many of the people they serve.
As enthusiastic as she is about this, Byrne said she is having difficulty finding facilities with commercial kitchens that are willing to let her and her volunteers use to serve free meals.
For more information about We Care, to volunteer or if you have a dining site with a commercial kitchen that you would be willing to let We Care use, call 352-503-2079. We Care is at 5259 W. Cardinal St., Homosassa.