Many of us didn’t know the term “food insecurity” two years ago, but now we know it only too well.

Individuals and families strapped for funds can’t negotiate prices for housing or fuel, so it’s often the food budget that takes a hit. Fortunately, Citrus County has dedicated organizations working together to ensure that residents don’t go hungry.

Since 2004, We Care Food Pantry, founded by Diane Toto in Homosassa, was on the front lines of hunger relief. Several years later it purchased a two-warehouse complex it dubbed the “Hunger Relief Complex” on Cardinal Street as center of operations. Then it rented the second warehouse to the Community Food Bank, with which it shared an anti-hunger purpose. Now, We Care has closed its doors, but the Community Food Bank is purchasing the entire “Hunger Relief Complex” and keeping alive the local mission to ensure no one goes hungry.

Think of the Community Food Bank as the “wholesaler” that provides food, resources and support to its “retailers” – more than 50 local community food pantries and food distribution charities. Its responsibility load has more than doubled during the pandemic years: the Community Food Bank went from serving fewer than 30,000 individuals a month to its current 70,000 monthly throughout Citrus, Hernando, and Sumter counties. The Community Food Bank has distributed more than 14 million pounds of food since 2013, providing over 21 million meals to our community.

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That’s a lot to handle, on top of the indebtedness that comes with purchase of the Hunger Relief Complex. However, Community Food Bank executive director Barbara Sprague said she is confident that her group can repay it. The two organizations are managing the property transfer amicably, with We Care donating more than $340,000 in food, warehouse equipment, racking and a cooler/freezer to the Community Food Bank.

There’s widespread concern that food insecurity will worsen before it gets better in Citrus County, so the Community Food Bank needs even more help than before. Check its website – https://feed352.org – to see how you can contribute. Maybe it’s your volunteer time, or money, or food; all are welcome.

Email the Community Food Bank at info@cfbocc.org, or call 352-628-3663. We urge everyone who can do so to be part of the solution to food insecurity.