CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — The pandemic has seen a rise in the number of people needing help especially when it comes to keeping food on the table.
The problem is especially significant in rural counties.
Local nonprofits like Waste Not Want Not in Orange Park are making sure people in rural communities are fed.
Sandra Staudt-Killea,the Executive Director of Waste Not Want Not, said for some of the people in rural Clay County, transportation is a barrier, so food from the food pantry gets sent out to local churches, soup kitchens, and other organizations to make sure it gets into the hands of those in need.
Volunteers at the nonprofit spend each day unloading food from cars and trucks. Things like bread, produce and meats are sorted and sent out to local charities and organizations that need it most.
“The need has always been there of course, but in the past year, its risen even more,” Staudt-Killea said.
Last year it gave out more than two million pounds of food.
Staudt-Killea told Action News Jax most of the food pantries are doing 30% more than they were a year ago. Some even more since other charities were forced to close.
Almost all of the food comes from local restaurants and grocery stores.
“It’s food that the stores have decided are unmarketable for some reason or other. For example, you pick up that dozen eggs and one might be broken. The rest of the eggs might not be broken but the store can’t sell that dozen,” she said.
The Kitchen of Clay County is one organization that feeds the hungry. It recently opened back up after being closed for a year.
They give out bagged lunches thanks to the food from Waste Not Want Not.
The Kitchen of Clay County hands out lunches Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Orange Park, Green Cove, and Middleburg at the following churches:
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
207 Palmetto Avenue
Green Cove Springs, FL 32043
Middleburg United Methodist Church
3925 Main St,
Middleburg, FL 32068
First Baptist Church of Orange Park
1140 Kingsley Ave
Orange Park, FL 32073
“A gentleman that showed up in Green Cove and told us if he hadn’t seen our sign, he didn’t know if he would have eaten that day,” Jennifer Knight, V.P. of Kitchen of Clay County, said.
Waste Not Want Not helps over 100 local charities a week in more than 10 counties in north Florida.
And they can’t do it alone. The nonprofit is in desperate need of more volunteers, donations, and brown paper bag donations.
For more information on how you can help, you can visit Waste Not Want Not’s webpage at www.wastenotflorida.com.