WEST PALM BEACH — Since 2007, Palm Beach County has witnessed nearly a 200 percent increase in the number of people receiving food stamps. More than 50 percent of children are on free or reduced lunch. More than 150,000 people live at or below the poverty line, many residents unsure from where their next meal will come.
This growing demand for food has stretched the 120-plus organizations in the county that feed the hungry. Although such organizations, which range from small churches to larger soup kitchens, tend to receive a healthy portion of their food supply from a food bank, it is estimated that only 15 percent of the 40 million pounds required to serve the county’s total annual needs, are being met.
To address the concern the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, Quantum Foundation, Allegany Franciscan Ministries, United Way of Palm Beach County, Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, Lost Tree Village Charitable Foundation, Palm Beach County Human Services and others, in an unprecedented collaboration to improve the distribution and collection system as well as access to existing programs, have announced the creation of the Palm Beach County Food Bank.
The new Palm Beach County Food Bank has absorbed an existing Community Food Truck operation that transported more than 4 million pounds of food over the past year. The Food Bank will focus on creating strategic food source alliances to increase the amount of food provided to the 120-plus organizations that are on the front lines of feeding the hungry.
Perry Borman, formerly southeast regional managing director of the Florida Department of Children and Families, has been appointed executive director. Until the Food Bank secures its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, C.R.O.S. Ministries, led by the Rev. Pam Cahoon, will serve as the fiscal agent for the new organization.
“The health and human services needs in our community are great. Many families are struggling and yet Palm Beach County is rich in resources,” said Borman. “If any community can help close the gap, it’s ours. We are starting with a successful community food truck operation, strong collaboration and support from a number of organizations … including the local agricultural community. ”
Borman noted that for more than six years, the Palm Beach County Community Food Alliance, “which has been a collaborative initiative facilitated and administered by the United Way of Palm Beach County, has done a great job to help us all focus on this issue. The Palm Beach County Food Bank is the next chapter of the Community Food Alliance.”
Photo: Perry Borman