Regional food drives collect for local, state aid

Grocery store fruits and vegetables
Grocery store fruits and vegetables

Multiple local organizations will host food drives this week and throughout November to support food pantries like Bread of the Mighty and Alan and Cathy Hitchcock Field & Fork Pantry.

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) began its eighth annual “Stuff the Charger” food drive Monday. The drive lasts all month and all FHP locations will accept non-perishable items for food banks across the state.

FHP released the following list of needed items.

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Canned Goods: canned meats (ham, chicken, tuna), canned potatoes, carrots, corn, green beans, canned fruits, vegetables, and soup.

Dried Goods: stuffing, boxed potatoes, rice, cornbread mix, grits, cereal, and oatmeal.

Other Goods: nuts, peanut butter, evaporated milk, bottled water, and broth.

“The Florida Highway Patrol is passionate about investing in our communities,” Lt. Col. Troy Thompson, acting director of the Florida Highway Patrol, said in a press release.

The Gainesville-Alachua County Association of Realtors (GACAR) held a food drive on Oct. 29 and will host another this Friday.

The association set a goal of providing 50,000 meals to Bread of the Mighty Food Bank in Gainesville. To reach the amount, the food drive needs to generate $5,000 as every dollar donated can produce 10 meals.

Sarah Jane Ferris, communications director for GACAR, said the drive had a bit of a slow start between the UF vs. Georgia game and Halloween.

The first half of the food drive received enough for 6,800 meals. This Friday’s drive will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the GACAR offices.

The association hosts the food drive every year and added an extra one in 2020 to help during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ferris said.

The UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is in the middle of its unique food drive that started in October and lasts until Nov. 24.

IFAS hold a Peanut Butter Challenge every year, asking for donations of unopened jars of peanut butter for the Alan and Cathy Hitchcock Field & Fork Pantry.

The challenge began in 2012 and covered the entire state for the first time in 2020, gathering 27,000 pounds of peanut butter.

The mighty nut boosted Florida’s economy by $119 million in 2019, according to the Florida Agricultural Statistics Service―well above grapefruits at $65 million but a good distance from oranges at $867 million.

Participants can donate at a local IFAS drop-off point and help increase their county’s number.

Bread of the Mighty Food Bank food drive

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