March 2020, then Mayor Connie Thomas presented a County wide feeding proposal to Impact Clay. This proposal became the Food for Clay County community impact project, with the goal of creating a central hub for food donations and volunteers alike to come together to assist the food banks and pantries. In April of 2020, Impact Clay launched the Facebook page for Food for Clay County as part of their communications plan and the call for volunteers and food began to circulate around social media channels. Food distribution events began popping up by mid-April and quickly became the lifeline so many families and individuals needed during the pandemic. Food for Clay County provided more than just non-perishable food items and as more food distribution events came online, the need for industrial sized cold storage became essential.
June 2021, Challenge Enterprises was able to offer recently purchased refrigeration units, freezer and refrigeration trailer, along with the volunteers and staff to help fulfill the need. With a rally of thirty-seven volunteers over a three-day period, Food for Clay County shifted operations from Reynold Park Port to the Challenge Enterprises warehouse in Green Cove Springs. This first load consisted of fifty pallets, that when processed by the volunteers created 1,230 boxes of food distributed to families in Clay County. Each box is packed to feed a family of four for seven days.
February 2022, the Food for Clay County program is still going strong distribution 1,236 boxes a month through eleven monthly distribution sites, as well as supporting local food pantries with requested needs. The partnership of Feeding Northeast Florida and Route End consistently provides between 35,000 to 50,000 lbs. of food each month, consisting of produce, dairy, meats, frozen meals, deli, breads, pastries, water, etc. Personal health, hygiene and household items have been added to the offering.
Food for Clay County has also expanded its offerings to include partnerships with United Health Care and the Veteran Administration to assist veterans and individuals with getting the most out of their healthcare benefits.
One out of eight people in Florida face hunger, but you can impact this stat! Help spread the news about Food for Clay County via the Food for Clay County Facebook page and posts about upcoming events. If you have some free time, you can volunteer to help through the Challenge Enterprises website.
“If you want to eliminate hunger, everybody has to be involved.” -Bono