THE ISSUE: Nonprofit faces food shortage.
OUR OPINION: Another food drive may be the answer.
Citrus United Basket (CUB), one of the oldest and largest food banks in the county, needs our help. Not at Thanksgiving. Or Christmas. They need help now.
The organization has tirelessly served the county’s food insecure for more than 40 years, after humble beginnings with storage in an old shed off Cooter Pond and another at the First United Methodist Church in Homosassa.
Begun in 1977 when growing needs of residents became overwhelming to county family services, CUB has developed steadily through the years. From county employees, to volunteers, to a motorcycle club and more, Citrus County has wholeheartedly embraced the mission of helping its own.
Now the organization — based in Inverness — is a well-oiled machine helping to alleviate food insecurity by providing residents with healthy provisions year-round. Non-food items such as toiletries and baby supplies help keep residents healthier. And clothes and money and other household necessities are available for those who need them — including many veterans.
CUB distributes nonperishable food items in brown paper bags for households to take home once a month. Nowadays, they distribute approximately 10,000 pounds of food a month from the food pantry to the 300 families that visit monthly.
One of the greatest restocking efforts for CUB shelves has been the May Postal Food Drive. Typically, that drive has kept CUB shelves stocked with food for the summer months and then some.
The premise is simple: Postal customers leave a bag of food at their mailbox and mail carriers pick them up. Or, customers place food in donation boxes at the post office locations. After the one-day drive, the food goes to CUB.
Easy and effective.
Well, for some reason, this year’s drive was different.
The May Postal Food Drive collected 8,000 pounds of food less than the previous year. That’s a lot of food. And food supplies are diminishing daily at CUB. Shelves are becoming more bare.
CUB personnel have persevered to keep families fed, but are frustrated with having to cut back so much. But, according to Steve Savino, vice president of the CUB Board of Directors, “It’s better to give (people) something than to tell them we have nothing.”
Fact is, demands are up and donations are low. School will start soon and that will help to a point, but then the holidays will be here. That means more food will be needed, toys and warm clothes will be needed.
We are proud to live in a county where giving is more than just second nature. It appears a primary ingrained sense of personal duty for many, many residents. And this is one of those instances when we benefit from that sense of moral obligation.
We would love to see residents pull together on this one to help friends and neighbors. Since the public appeal for help has gone out recently, it is gratifying to know many people have answered the call with donations. But more are needed.
And although public appeal for individual donations helps, it might be time to consider a secondary food drive, even if it is a one-time push.
We hope next year’s effort will regain its former impetus, but we need a fix for now. Another drive could be the answer.