Featured Agency: Citrus County Blessings

Featured Agency: Citrus County Blessings

Citrus County Blessings (a.k.a. Blessings) has been a partnering agency of the Community Food Bank (CFB) since 2013.  Blessings utilizes the CFB to secure non-perishable food for their weekend program as well as their summer “Feed the Kids” fresh produce program which began in 2017.

Blessings fills the gap to provide children with wholesome, nourishing meals when school lunch programs are unavailable, including on weekends and over the summer. During the 2019-2020 school year, Blessings distributed approximately 300,000 pounds of food, including 45,000 pounds of special product for holiday meal distribution (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break).  Below is a breakdown:

  • 10,100 meals were served each weekend of the school year to an average of 1685 children
  • 861 participants and 165 families participated in Feed the Kids 2020 (double the participation from the previous year)

Christina Reed is the Executive Director of Blessings. According to Reed, the CFB allows her agency to either purchase food at a significant discount or obtain it for free, thus allowing them to stretch their donation dollars and feed more children in need.

“The Community Food Bank is able to secure opportunities through Feeding Tampa Bay, the USDA and other organizations that benefit each of our programs,” explains Reed. “Just recently, the CFB was able to provide farm fresh produce for our summer program at no cost to us, allowing us to serve double the amount of people from the previous year. They also provide invaluable operational support for our food deliveries each month of the school year.”

Barbara Sprague, Executive Director of the CFB, is tasked with ensuring partner agencies are good stewards of the food and resources the food bank provides.

“Citrus County Blessings fills an important need in our community,” says Sprague.  “Many families rely on free or reduced school lunch programs to help feed their children. For some children, these are the only nourishing meals they receive. What happens on weekends and over the summer when school meal programs are unavailable?  That is where Blessings comes in.  Without Blessings, many children would go hungry.”

Reed says it would be extremely difficult to help as many children and families without the partnership and support of the CFB.

“The CFB always has our back when we have an issue with shortages, product availability, etc.,” says Reed. “I remember two years ago when the hurricane came through and made it challenging to get food to our pantries. The CFB worked closely with us to put a plan together to ensure we were able to get all of our product where it needed to be to serve our children.”

The partnership between the CFB and Blessings is a shining example of how two non-profit organizations work together to ensure much needed support, resources and food reach those in need.

“The Community Food Bank, it’s dedicated staff and volunteers make what we do possible,” concludes Reed. “They encompass what a food bank means to a community and the people we serve.”

A Heartwarming Word From a Blessings Family…

“Thank you. I hope every family has the decency to say that. But when I say that you make a huge difference for my family, it doesn’t express the magnitude. It’s easy to take for granted a helping hand, but when you have been through as much as my family has, you never ever take for granted the difference between starving so that your children can eat and being able to eat with them. So please believe me when I say that thank you could never be enough.”