Feeding South Florida’s Monthly Spotlight: November
Friendly Food Banker: Deanna Susser
Full name: Deanna Susser
Hometown: Hollywood, FL
What is your role at Feeding South Florida? Visual Communications Coordinator
How long have you been with the organization? Since March 2020
What is the best thing about Feeding South Florida? It’s a real privilege to work with such an amazing and dedicated team. Everyone is really supportive and helpful. Everyone here truly lives by our values of service, compassion, dedication, integrity, and stewardship.
What is your favorite project you’ve worked on? Helping launch the design for Feeding South Florida’s Mobile FARMacy. Fun Fact: All the bright, beautiful and fresh produce pictured on the mobile trailer are the same products our clients receive.
What do you want people to know about Feeding South Florida? Feeding South Florida is more than a place to receive food. We have developed direct-service programs to address the root causes of hunger and provide wrap-around services.
What is your favorite thing about working at Feeding South Florida? I love that I get to utilize my strengths as a designer to help our community. It is extremely rewarding to help support, educate and advocate for our community through the power of design.
How did you first learn about Feeding South Florida? I first volunteered with Feeding South Florida when I was very young. I grew up with a family who prioritized giving back, so it’s amazing that I can continue to use my skills to help.
Partner Agency: The Soup Kitchen
The Soup Kitchen in Boynton has served over six million duplicated people since opening its doors in 1983 and continues to do so 365 days a year. Dimitry Viarenich, their COO, says that many people ask him why they’re open on holidays, and he says, “It may be a holiday to me, but it’s not to everyone who’s depending on us. To them, it’s just another day that they need us to provide food. Hunger doesn’t take a holiday.”
We recently sat down with Dimitri and Marlene Mejia, their CEO, to discuss their day-to-day operations, partnership with Feeding South Florida, and future plans.
As for how Feeding South Florida supports their efforts, Dimitry said, “We always go to Feeding South Florida first when we need something, and they never hesitate to help. They are our main source to connecting with the network of supermarkets, where we get a majority of our food.” The food they receive ensures each person that visits leaves with a complete meal, two hot soups, and groceries for the week.
As they begin to expand their building infrastructure and programs, they have one word in mind for their future: genuine. They want each person who walks in their doors to leave feeling safe, seen, and full. To achieve this, they are building a classroom space for volunteers to teach language and life skills classes and launching their Lift Up program in 2022 to teach those being phased out of foster care, basics in the kitchen.
When Marlene thinks back to a mission moment that reminds her of the importance of their mission, she shared this story. “One year ago, I walked into the kitchen and saw this boy volunteering who looked familiar to me. After talking with him I realized who he was.” The volunteer looked at Marlene and said, “When I was younger, my mom and I would come here to find food. You helped us have food growing up and I wanted to give back to you in return.”
Marlene, Dimitry, Chef Pete, and their dedicated volunteers continue to serve the South Florida community with the mindset of, “This is the right thing to do. If not us, then who?”
Volunteer: Ian Dunne
Ian Dunne has been volunteering with Feeding South Florida since March of 2021. He volunteers at least twice a week and has logged over 245 hours within our sort and inspect room, which is why we chose him as our November Volunteer of the Month.
He first heard about Feeding South Florida from his mom and decided to try his hand at volunteering. After the first few weeks, he was hooked. As someone who has spent many hours at our Pembroke Park Warehouse, Ian had a lot of moments that could have stood out as favorites. The mission moment that stands out to him though, are all the days he spends packing meal boxes. To Ian those days make the biggest impact.
“My favorite part about volunteering is making a difference for a few hours a day. That’s what motivates me to come every week. My advice to anyone who is looking to volunteer, is to do it with Feeding South Florida; you’ll make a real impact on someone’s life.”