Community Food Bank Selected to Benefit From Winn-Dixie Floral Program Designed to Give Back to Local Communities

Brighten up your day with a bouquet of flowers that gives back to the local community. The Community Food Bank (CFB) has been selected by local Winn-Dixie store leadership as the benefiting non-profit in the new Winn-Dixie Bloomin’ 4 Good Program from October 12th through November 30th.

As part of this ongoing program, every month at every Winn-Dixie location a different local non-profit is selected to benefit from the sale of the Bloomin’ 4 Good Bouquet. The CFB will receive a $1 donation for every $12.99 Bloomin’ 4 Good Bouquet purchased at the Winn-Dixie location at 3792 South Suncoast Boulevard in Homosassa.

The Winn-Dixie Bloomin’ 4 Good Program is an easy way for shoppers to give back as part of the regular shopping routine. Every $12.99 Bloomin’ 4 Good Bouquet with the red circle sticker sold supports a non-profit local to the Winn-Dixie in which it was purchased.

“Flowers can make someone’s day, brighten up a room or spread a smile,” says Barbara Sprague, Executive Director of the CFB. “Now, they can give back, too! We are thrilled to be chosen to benefit from this unique and impactful Winn-Dixie Bloomin’ 4 Good Program, as the demand for food assistance is higher than ever this year and keeps growing.”

For more information about the Winn-Dixie Bloomin’ 4 Good Program, please visit seg.bloomin4good.com.

US Family Foundation Support CFB With $25,000

The US Family Foundation has renewed their support of the Community Food Bank (CFB) with an extremely generous donation. Johnny Cash, executive director of the US Family Foundation, presented CFB Executive Director Barbara Sprague with a check for $25,000.

“The US Family Foundation has been backing our mission for the past six years,” explains Sprague. “Their ongoing and continuous support makes it possible for us to deliver enhanced levels of services to the 50+ agencies we serve. Keeping our pantries stocked is key to ensuring no one in our community goes hungry.”

Twin Rivers Marina Donates $2500 To Community Food Bank

We are super excited to welcome a new business to our family of donors.  Andrew Hupp is the new owner of Twin Rivers Marina.  He didn’t waste any time getting involved with the Community Food Bank (CFB).  Marina manager, Kayla Ferguson, and marina staff presented CFB executive director Barbara Sprague with a check for $2500.

As we have mentioned before, the need for food assistance is rising and we could not do what we do without the generous support of individuals and businesses such as Twin Rivers Marina. 

Twin Rivers Marina is the largest storage marina in Crystal River. They are located in close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and Kings Bay and have a fleet of new pontoon and fishing boats for rent.  If you are just passing (or sailing) through, be sure to check out their full-service store stocked with food, beverages, fuel, bait, and anything you might need for your fishing or scalloping adventure. If you haven’t been out there lately, we encourage you to stop on by!

Maureen “Mo” Baird

Citrus County Supervisor of Elections

The Community Food Bank (CFB) is honored to have the support of so many individuals throughout our community.  We refer to them as our “Hunger Heroes”. 

Our Hunger Hero Spotlight highlights the volunteer efforts of Maureen “Mo” Baird.  Baird is the Citrus County Supervisor of Elections.  She is very involved in the community and isn’t afraid to lend a hand to a good cause.  Even with her busy schedule, she still makes time to volunteer at the CFB warehouse sorting food for distribution. 

“I’m just thankful to be able to be here to serve Citrus County,” explains Baird. “We have so many people that need food in Citrus County and it is just such an awesome opportunity that I am able to come here to volunteer.”

We recently caught her “in action” as she was sorting food:

Baird also wants to remind everyone that the last week of September is National Voter Registration Week. If you would like to register to vote or learn more about the Citrus County Supervisor of Elections office visit www.votecitrus.gov.

Interested in lending your time and talents to become a Hunger Hero?  If so, please call us at 352-628-3663.

We Need Volunteers!

Want to be a Hunger Hero?  The Community Food Bank needs YOU. Have fun, build camaraderie with staff and other volunteers all while helping to end hunger and nourish hope throughout our local community.  We have several fun and fulfilling volunteer opportunities including:

  • Food Sorters
  • Forklift Drivers
  • Experienced Pallet Hack Handlers
    (Must be able to lift 30 lbs. / Mon-Fri 6am – 10am or 8am – noon)

If you are interested in becoming one of our Hunger Heroes, please call 352-628-3663.

Eagles Ladies Auxilary
Community Food Bank (CFB) Executive Director Barbara Sprague (far left) accepts a generous donation from the Crystal River Eagles Ladies Auxiliary. The funds will be used to help 50+ agencies that partner with the CFB provide much needed food assistance to families throughout our area.

The Community Food Bank (CFB) reports a 200% spike in the demand for food assistance compared to last year at this time.  According to Barbara Sprague, Executive Director of the CFB, this increased demand is primarily attributed to the conclusion of stimulus aid.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year, we thought we hit an all-time high in the need for food assistance,” explains Sprague. “However, our agencies have been experiencing tremendous increases in demand over the last few months which directly correlates to the end of additional unemployment compensation, SNAP benefits, and other monetary COVID-19 stimulus aid.”

Sprague reports that the CFB has already distributed 2,004,172 pounds of food in 2021.  Last year, the agency distributed a total of 2,143,040 pounds.

“We had a record distribution in 2020,” says Sprague. “We are on target to surpass this in 2021.”

The CFB has been able to keep up with the increased demand for food assistance thanks to the generosity of businesses and individuals throughout the community.  However, funds are being depleted by the increased demand and the agency needs additional donations.

“Every single donation – whether it is $25, $2500, or $25,000 – is put to good use and makes a difference,” explains Steve Ponticos, President of the CFB Board of Directors. “For every $100 donated, we provide 1000 meals. We are calling on the community to consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us get through this unexpected increase in demand for food assistance.”

The Crystal River Eagle’s Ladies Auxiliary has already stepped up to the plate by donating $1312.00.  Regions Bank has donated another $5000.00 as well.

“Our staff and volunteers continue to work overtime to meet the needs of the agencies we serve,” concludes Sprague. “We have a wonderful team and will do whatever it takes to ensure no one in our community goes hungry.”

Black Diamond Foundation

Black Diamond Foundation Donates $20,000; CFB Issues Matching Challenge

The Black Diamond Foundation recently donated $20,000 to the Community Food Bank (CFB) towards the purchase of an enclosed, climate controlled Ford Transit 250 cargo van.  The van further expands the CFBs reach and capacity for food relief, allowing for additional perishable food pickups and deliveries to partnering agencies for distribution to those in need. The CFB has issued a challenge match of an additional $20,000 to cover the full cost of the new vehicle.

“Local Dollar General stores are now providing us with perishable food, so we’ve added them to our growing list of pickup sites,” says Barbara Sprague, Executive Director of the CFB. “The agencies we partner with are providing food to more people than ever before.  As the need grows, so do we. The new cargo van allows us to make additional pickups and drop-offs to help ensure no one in our community goes hungry.”

The Black Diamond Foundation (BDF) has been an ongoing, loyal supporter of the CFB’s fight against hunger.  The foundation stepped up once again when the CFB identified the need for an additional climate controlled vehicle for food transport. 

“The BDF continues to go above and beyond in supporting our mission,” says Steve Ponticos, President of the CFB Board of Directors. “We could not do what we do without the generous, ongoing assistance of the BDF, its president, Roger Obenauf, and all of the philanthropic men and women of the BDF who are passionate about supporting the CFBs efforts to provide food assistance throughout our community.”

According to Sprague, the $20,000 matching challenge will help the CFB offset the full cost of the cargo van and also provide funding for fuel and regular maintenance.  There are three easy ways to donate:

  1. Visit www.feed352.org and click donate.
  2. Text DONATE to 352-280-3391
  3. Mail or drop off a donation to:
    Community Food Bank
    5259 W Cardinal Street
    Building B
    Homosassa, FL 34446

“Every donation makes a difference,” says Sprague.  “We hope to achieve our matching challenge goal of $20,000 by July 4th.”

Community Comes Together to Fight Hunger

This year’s Empty Bowls to benefit the Community Food Bank (CFB) brought together local restaurants and businesses who joined forces to help fight hunger. The following raised a total of $9813.61 by donating a portion of their gross sales as part of the Empty Bowls event:

  • Amy’s on the Avenue
  • Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters
  • Katch 22
  • Manatee Maven
  • Tim’s Barber Room
  • Wallace’s Greenhouse Bistro

“Like many non-profit organizations, we had to pivot our event model because of COVID-19,” explains Barbara Sprague, Executive Director of the CFB. “We are very pleased with the results of this year’s Empty Bowls and look forward to hopefully returning to an in-person event in 2022.”

A number of local businesses and individuals lent their financial support, including Lowman Law Firm, Crystal Automotive, Dr. Bob’s Compassion Clinic, Avant-Garde Consulting and Professional Services, Citrus 95.3/Fox 96.7/Naturecoast Country, Drummond Bank, Kanes/Lollygaggers/The Loft, Kim DeVane and Mike Orlito, JoAnne and Zell Boggus, Armantes, Breakfast Station and Saltwater Cowboy’s Bar & Grill.

“The Community Food Bank is fortunate to have the ongoing support of so many individuals, businesses and sponsors during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Steve Ponticos, President of the CFB Board of Directors. “We could not have ramped up efforts and met the increased need for food assistance without the generous support of our local community.

Special Thanks to Our Empty Bowls Radio Sponsor Citrus 95.3.

Catch Us on the Radio!

Barbara Sprague interview with Laura Vaughn: