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Saturday, December 04, 2021

Gainesville food bank competes for national grant to fight hunger

Bread of the Mighty Food Bank needs Gainesville’s help to stay strong in the fight against child hunger. The nonprofit is participating in Walmart’s national Fighting Hunger Together campaign for the chance to win part of a $3 million grant.

The public can vote online once a day. More than 300 organizations are participating in the campaign, which is a partnership between Walmart and Feeding America, according to a press release.

Former director of the food bank Anne Voyles said child hunger is a major concern in Alachua County that has only been getting worse with the economic situation nationwide.

“Often kids come to school without a full tummy and leave without one,” she said. “One in 5 children in Alachua County are hungry. It’s a really scary thing.”

To vote, Facebook users can go to www.facebook.com/walmart, click on the “Fighting Hunger” link, search for Bread of the Mighty Food Bank and download the voting app.

Voting is open until April 30. Bread of the Mighty development coordinator Debie Talbot said Walmart will then give 40 grants worth $45,000 each to food banks receiving the most votes. The company will also give out 60 grants worth $20,000 to food agencies, Talbot said.

Voyles said Bread of the Mighty serves about 150 food agencies.

As of press time, about 85,000 votes had been submitted. Bread of the Mighty had more than 170 votes.

Joe Manasco, director of children nutrition programs for the food bank, said the organization plans to use the funds to feed children through the Feeding Children in the Gap program.

“There are government funds and grants for feeding children, but there are pockets of poverty I can’t get to,” he said.

Talbot explained the grant will allow the food bank to provide meals in after-school programs, summer programs, community centers and rural communities. In 2012, the organization distributed more than 5 million pounds of food in Alachua, Dixie, Gilchrist, Lafayette and Levy counties, she said.

“When you see somebody crying because they haven’t had meat and vegetables at the same time in a long time,” she said, “you realize how critical this is.”

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