Featured Agency: Daystar Life Center of Citrus County

Working Together for the Common Good

Daystar Life Center of Citrus County (Daystar) has been a partner of the Community Food Bank (CFB) since 2013. In fact, Daystar’s former executive director played an integral role in establishing the CFB. The organization’s current executive director, Anthony Kopka, and food pantry manager, Nancy Whittemore, continue to be active members of the CFB Advisory Council.

Daystar’s mission is to make a positive difference in people’s lives by providing immediate assistance for low income individuals and families throughout Citrus County. Some of the basic needs Daystar provides include food, clothing and assistance with paying rent and utilities. The organization also connects individuals with resources and opportunities to help improve their situations and put them on a path toward success.

The demand for food assistance continues to increase. In 2019, 340 – 420 households sought assistance from Daystar each month and the organization distributed 121,466 pounds of food to a total of 1,539 households. 

According to Kopka, the Daystar truck makes a stop at least once a week, sometimes more, to the CFB.  Picking up food at a central location makes it convenient for all.

“Having a centralized location of foods donated by local supermarkets – where every food pantry and feeding agency can go to share in the bounty – streamlines accessibility for us all,” explains Kopka. “It must certainly be better for the supermarkets as well.  They only need to deal with one entity instead of all 50 or more who seek grocery donations. Having a food bank for the entire county also benefits us all by having one entity represent all community pantries in order to leverage corporations, national or state agencies and regional networks for either better prices or for free foods.”

“Daystar has been with us since day one,” says Barbara Sprague, Executive Director of the CFB. “Not only do they provide much needed, comprehensive services to those in need throughout our community, but they are active in supporting and promoting what we do here at the Community Food Bank.”

Kopka says the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the agency because the churches, organizations, civic clubs and community groups that support Daystar have had to cancel their fundraising events.  As a result, Daystar has leaned on the CFB for additional assistance.

“The Community Food Bank has been especially helpful by procuring free fresh produce and other foods,” says Kopka. “We also go to the food bank every week for meat and poultry, which are difficult foods to obtain. It is also very helpful to have one hub for distribution of items needed during and after a crisis, such as bottled water after hurricanes and face masks for COVID-19.”

According to Sprague, the most successful partnerships are those where each agency works together for the common good.

“Anthony Kopka and his team are always supportive and available to help in any way they can,” explains Sprague. “We, in turn, are able to provide them with a variety of fresh, nourishing food options to distribute to the individuals and families they serve.  It’s a win-win for us all.”

“The executive director, employees and the Board of Directors of the Community Food Bank have been very accessible, responsive and helpful to the needs of Daystar Life Center, ever since the food bank was established,” concludes Kopka. “In addition to food, Daystar also provides clothing and financial aid to avert utility disconnections or to prevent evictions from rental housing for needy and low-income residents throughout Citrus County.  The food bank is like having a partner to procure food for distribution, giving Daystar staff more time to line up resources to sustain our other services that help those who are in critical need.”

If you would like to learn more about Daystar and all of the important resources and services they provide, please visit https://www.daystarcitruscounty.org/.