Feeding South Florida opens facility to feed families

By Jan Engoren
Contact Reporter
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

November 1, 2016

Feeding South Florida, a hunger-relief organization, has officially opened its new 25,644-square-foot warehouse and resource center at 4925 Park Ridge Blvd. in Boynton Beach.

With 199,460 people, including 60,340 children and nearly 40,000 older adults considered food insecure, the food bank will provide more than 11 million pounds of food each year through direct service programs and a network of more than 100 nonprofit partner agencies throughout the county.

“We’re very excited to be in Boynton Beach,” said CEO Paco Vélez. “It is our next step for Feeding South Florida and for Palm Beach County to start breaking the cycle of hunger and poverty. We want to raise awareness about the considerable need right here in our community and we want to make sure people know they have a place to go to get or to provide assistance.”

But he said their efforts go beyond food distribution, referring to the organization’s mission statement of providing immediate access to nutritious food, to lead poverty and advocacy efforts by educating elected officials on issues affecting their clients and, thirdly, to transform lives through innovative programming, including computer and financial literacy, resume building and work force development.

In its first year, they plan to add three additional positions: volunteer coordinator, client services coordinator and warehouse associate.

In its second year, they plan to add a commercial kitchen that will serve as a production kitchen as well as a culinary training program that will create five positions for kitchen manager/executive and sous chefs, program manager, training staff and a catering coordinator.

The commercial kitchen will also provide an opportunity for 200 individuals to learn culinary skills as a means to employment.

James Gavrilos, executive director of Boca Helping Hands, said having the new facility closer to Boca Raton than in its previous space in West Palm Beach means quicker access for his program.

“The proximity to Boca is a great thing and their new modern facility will help them expand and provide more food service to food pantries that use their services, like us,” he said. “It’s a new, modern facility and the processes are streamlined to deliver food in a more efficient manner.”

Feeding South Florida is a member of the Feeding America network, and the opening of this facility coincides with Feeding South Florida’s 35th anniversary of service to Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Beth Walton of Palm Beach United Way, which partners with Feeding South Florida to provide relief from hunger to families in the county, said, “Hunger in our community is very real.”

“When over 190,000 residents in Palm Beach County are food insecure, it is an issue we all should be concerned about. If we all work together, we can help make sure not one will go to bed hungry or have to choose between proper nutrition and medication or child care,” she said.

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