CFP blog has moved!

September 24, 2008

If you are looking for the Cooperative Feeding Program’s blog, we’ve moved it over to http://cooperativefeedingprogram.wordpress.com.  New posts, pics and video can be found there.  Of course you can always go to their main site www.feedingbroward.org and click the blog icon.

Thanks for reading!

Mo

CFP…in the News

June 4, 2008

As struggling South Floridians turn to food banks for help, the cupboards are running bare

|South Florida Sun-Sentinel
May 31, 2008

Food banks and feeding programs such as Meals on Wheels are seeing more people seeking help. At the same time, donations are declining and they face the same economic factors that are sending more hungry people to their doors.

Charitable food pantries are handing out smaller take-home food boxes. Home-delivered meal services for homebound seniors are losing volunteer drivers, overwhelmed by high fuel prices. Palm Beach County‘s Meals on Wheels program is taking rice — which rose in price more than 12 percent over the past year — off its menu soon and has substituted a dairy drink for milk with the breakfast boxes.

Meanwhile, the lines for groceries and hot meals increasingly include even middle-class families, turning to charity for the first time after losing a job or falling behind on their mortgage payments.

Sister Jean Peter Wilders and her friend, Sister Chris-St. John Daniel, operate a food pantry and hot meal program out of their Household of Faith “convent,” a Lake Worth residential home. They are trying to feed hungry families, or the newly jobless, that say other feeding programs turned them down because they were out of groceries.

“We have people coming here sobbing. We’ve never seen it this bad,” Wilders said.

Concerned about increasing requests and the need to stretch donations further, the sisters now give groceries every other week, rather than weekly, to each family.

On a recent morning, Violet Ortiz, 61, made her first visit to the Household of Faith’s pantry. The sisters filled her cardboard box with salad dressing, canned vegetables and cereal — food for Ortiz, her daughter, her daughter’s boyfriend, and her 89-year-old father, all living together to make ends meet.

Ortiz, a widow, lost her job as a church secretary in October when the congregation had to cut expenses. At the church, Ortiz sometimes quietly referred financially strapped parishioners to the sisters’ pantry.

Now she has to seek help there herself.

“This has been a disastrous time for us,” Ortiz said.

The Cooperative Feeding Program in Fort Lauderdale also is seeing an increase in demand, as well as “people who are very different from the ones we served before,” said Director Marti Forman. “They are more nicely dressed, and are coming in nicer cars. Everyone has a different story, but they all have been hit by hard times.”

The program is serving daily hot meals to 500 to 560 people, compared with 300 to 400 a year ago, plus gives out 130 boxes of groceries daily. But Forman said Cooperative Feeding has reduced the box size, as the program is adding about 200 to 250 new mouths to feed each month.

New federal statistics show food prices in South Florida were up 7.2 percent in April over the previous year, the largest annual increase in the nation. April also saw the biggest month-to-month increase in food prices in 18 years.

Staples such as rice, bread and dairy products have been hit by double digit increases.

So the Meals on Wheels program that serves 1,426 homebound Palm Beach County seniors from Lake Worth to the county line has agreed its food provider, locked into a contract until next year, can eliminate rice from its dinners and use only seasonal fresh fruit.

The Palm Beach County Division of Senior Services expects the price of the 918 daily meals served at hot lunch sites at senior centers and community centers to rise from $3.10 to about $5 per unit next year. Service coordinator Tricia McCullough said attendance at those sites has been declining: “With gas prices going up, people can’t afford to drive there,” she said.

Fuel prices also are hurting Meals on Wheels in Broward County which, unlike in Palm Beach County, depends on volunteers to deliver to about 1,000 seniors — saving the agency about $204,000 in labor costs alone. The number of volunteers has dropped from about 250 to 197, said program services director Marlene Gray, as it becomes more expensive to fill their gas tanks.

Cooperative Feeding and Household of Faith are among the 800 agencies getting food through Daily Bread Food Bank, a massive South Florida collection agency that collects commodities from large corporate and government donors. Daily Bread, which must truck in most of its food from farmers or manufacturers in Georgia or the Midwest, has seen its food transportation costs doubling, with diesel fuel more than $4 a gallon.

At the same time, private donations are down.

“Families who donated food now are trying to fill their own cupboards,” said Phil Dickey, Daily Bread’s director of development. Large convention caterers also are watching their waste, he said, so there are fewer leftovers to give away.

Staff Writer Diane Lade can be reached at dlade@sun-sentinel.com or 954-356-4295 or 561-243-6618.

See the article below for a great story on how one of our local 11 year olds is changing the world and taking action to end hunger. If you’re not quite ready to have a bill named after you, you can still be a mover and shaker by helping us take action on the Farm Bill. Go to FRAC’s website (Food Research and Action Center) to have your opinion heard and get this vital piece of legislation passed.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bill to help feed hungry named after 11-year-old advocate from Coconut Grove

from the South Florida Sun Sentinel

By Josh Hafenbrack

He’s only 11, but South Florida’s Jack Davis has accomplished a feat few can match: He’s poised to get a Florida law named after him.

The sixth-grader’s cause: Making it easier for restaurants to donate their leftover food to homeless shelters and charities.

Jack, of Coconut Grove, started writing letters to legislators after a family vacation last summer in Tennessee, where a hotel manager told him the leftovers at a breakfast buffet would be thrown away. The hotel, the manager explained, couldn’t risk a lawsuit if someone got food poisoning or had an allergic reaction.

Later, during a trip to his mother’s native Peru, Jack saw a nation with widespread poverty and came home determined to salvage leftovers headed to the garbage bin.

“I volunteered for my school’s outreach program, and we went to shelters and I saw what [food] they get,” Jack said. “They’re good people, with families and kids. I wanted to improve their living conditions.”

Two Broward County legislators, Rep. Ari Porth and Sen. Nan Rich, took up Jack’s cause, and the “Jack Davis Florida Restaurant Lending a Helping Hand Act” sailed through the Legislature. After getting unanimous approval from both chambers last week, the measure awaits Gov. Charlie Crist’s signature.

The bill named in Jack’s honor (SB276) expands Florida’s Good Samaritan food-donation law to provide a lawsuit exemption for restaurants that donate their leftovers to charities and nonprofit organizations.

Researchers say that about a quarter of the food produced in America is thrown away — enough to feed 49 million people.

“Not all restaurants have a lot of leftovers, but for the ones that do, it was tough for them to [donate the food] because of the fear of liability,” said Jennifer Garner, communications director for the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, which supported the bill.

Jack’s legislative debut landed him a segment on ABC World News and a trip to Los Angeles as a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Back home in South Florida, he got a standing ovation at an assembly gathered in his honor at Ransom Everglades School.”It has been amazing,” said Jack’s mother, Yasmin. “I told Jack, ‘Chances are, nothing’s going to happen. Concentrate on your schoolwork and quit writing so many letters.’ He proved me wrong.”

Jack didn’t stop at letters. He made a personal appeal at the Capitol, lobbying the governor and testifying at a House committee that was debating the bill. His mother said he was even careful to hide his political leanings — he’s a staunch Democrat and Barack Obama supporter — lest he spoil his bill’s chances in a Republican-led Legislature.

“It’s so exciting, to know that there are young people out there who are interested and want to make a difference, want to make a change when they see something that’s not right,” said Rich, a Weston Democrat. “He really pursued it.”

Added Porth, D- Coral Springs, “I haven’t ever been contacted by an 11-year-old about a bill before.”

What’s next for Jack? He said he’s not sure if he wants to run for public office one day, but in classic politician’s form, he’s not ruling anything out.

Define it

April 24, 2008

funny dog pictures

How many of you looked at this picture and thought get a job, get rid of the dog or go home to your folks? How many of you looked at it and thought these two need help, who can help them? If you are in the second group Cooperative Feeding can help and so can you by volunteering, doing food drives (which can include pet food) or just by spreading the word. If you are in the first group, maybe you need to come spend a little time with us in the food pantry or community kitchen and look at how you define home, need, unconditional.

Looking at this picture we can’t really know anything about this person or his furry companion, but I’m sure we all look at it, make assumptions, and react. None of us know what has brought them here, what other options they might have, or where “here” even is and that’s rather the point. You don’t know.

What I find most intriguing about this picture is that it raises the idea of defining homelessness and what homeless persons (the furry sort too) need or want. I think most Americans think of the homeless rather like this picture. The truth might surprise you.

Many of our homeless clients you would walk by on the street and never know they were living in their car, sleeping on friends’ couches, staying in one of the county’s shelters or living on the streets. Then there are those that have shelter, but worry each month if they will lose it, or perhaps they live with family or in a motel. Not technically homeless, but definitely not housing secure and they too often find themselves not paying utilities or buying food so that they can pay the rent.

They often have jobs, education, families. A health emergency, an accident, a bad decision, an addiction… things that could happen to any of us move them from living pay check to pay check to needing public assistance or being out on the streets. Sometimes what they need isn’t what you think. It could be that getting food stamps would have been enough to put food on the table and pay the rent. Maybe mental health counseling would help them move forward and maybe a beloved dog is what is giving them the stability and love they need to make it through one more day.

Maybe just a bag of dog food a month and a hot meal a day would help these two make it through life a little easier. Maybe just a kind word directing them to a place like Cooperative Feeding is all they need to help re-define home. They seem to have the unconditional part down pretty well.

This Valentine’s Day show people where your heart really is and say no to stale grocery store chocolates and flowers that will just die anyway.  Join us over at Changing the Present  and send your special someones a virtual gift that benefits The Cooperative Feeding Program.  For just a buck you can send your sweetie a PB&J, your brother a toothbrush or your grandma  a pair of scoks to pay her back for all of those holiday ones she gave you.   $5 will grab you school supplies for needy kids and for $10 you can pick between sending someone to the showers or helping them get an ID.  Donate $20 and you can do lunch for 10 and $50 will feed a family.  Of course you could go for broke and donate $1,000 for a van load of food.  All fine choices and all way better than that stale box of chocolates.

If you are a Facebook user, you can send it direct to another friend on Facebook and let the whole of Facebook know where your heart lies.   Just look for the Changing the Present icon.

Which world do you live in?

February 2, 2008

If you are like 60% of the world’s population you live in the 3rd world. On January 23rd Nova Southeastern University illustrated this by hosting their annual Hunger Banquet. Each guest drew a lot upon entering the banquet, held on campus at The Commons. Just like the real world, 60% of the guests sat on the floor, ate rice with their hands and had only water to drink. 25% were lucky enough to have chairs and basic utensils and were able to have beans with their rice portions. A very lucky few – 15% – had a full meal at a table set with proper plates and utensils. I think I even spied a little dessert there!

The weather that evening provided a great backdrop, as one of our famous tropical rainstorms provided a downpour that ended up dripping on those seated on the floor of the tent in the third world ~ another reminder of how lucky so very many of us are. Cooperative Feeding staff were on hand to provide information on the ongoing hunger right here in Broward County. One staff, Gwen Perry, even shared her personal and moving story of hunger. The floor was then opened for discussion about poverty, homelessness and hunger.

One interesting thing that came out of the evening was a comment by one of the group representing the third world. Seems that their fellow students seated at the first world table felt enough compassion to sneak them a few forks and paper plates, vastly improving their experience. An interesting parallel to the real world perhaps ~ when truly faced with the reality of hunger and poverty, most of us will act and the action does not have to be monumental to make a difference. A simple act of compassion, sharing your excess with those less fortunate, does effect change.

Today take this challenge. Just as the students opened their eyes and saw the need right in front of them, open yours. What do you see? Do you see the elderly gentleman who looks just a bit too thin? Maybe the grandmother who has taken in her grandchildren and only has social security? Or maybe you see the family with all of their possessions in the car because they have no place to live. Now look at your own life. What do you have that you can share? Food, clothing, household items, cash, or maybe time and talent? Just like the students at Nova, you don’t have to go far to share.

It’s also for plenty, which is what we don’t have right now. The holidays are over, but hunger isn’t. In 2 months The Cooperative Feeding Program moved over 210,000 pounds of food, which is over 6000 emergency boxes. It’s a fantastic thing to be able to put such a basic necessity of life into so many hands, but all the hard work has left our shelves empty and warehouse depleted. I know, it’s a bit depressing, but around here there is no time for depressing! We’ve pulled on our bootstraps, circled the wagons and are sending out the word – Virtual Food Drives now!  Here’s how you can participate in the drive and restock those shelves.

1. Jump on our website and click on the virtual food drive link (it’s on the left). You’ll be redirected to our secure server where you can shop in our virtual grocery store.

2. Go to our Firstgiving page and do a personal fundraising campaign. You can do it all on your onsies or challenge your friends to a fundraising duel.

3. If you’re a local, shake down your cupboards, your mom’s kitchen (with her permission of course), your friends’ pantries (you should ask them first too), anywhere some non-perishable food might be hiding out and bring it on over. We’ll be sure it goes to a good home.

4. Pass it on. Forward this blog to all of your contacts. You never know who just might have 6 or 7 pallets of peanut butter lying about waiting for us to come get!