As 2021 begins, the need for food assistance is greater than ever, but thanks to local businesses, individuals and families, Seeds of Hope is receiving support from the community.
The Rutledge family, owners of FishHawk Pinch A Penny (located at 16715 FishHawk Blvd. in the Winn-Dixie shopping center across from Newsome High School), the local neighborhood full-service pool store, recently made a $5,000 donation to the food bank.
“We have been fortunate at FishHawk Pinch A Penny to have been able to continue to operate when others have not due to the pandemic,” said Jim Rutledge. “We have been blessed and wanted to give back to our community to help those in need.”
And there is plenty of need in the community.
Demand at the food bank grew quickly in 2020, from volunteers distributing 120 boxes of food weekly in January to filling up to 680 boxes per week by December, a 466 percent increase in food distribution.
“It hasn’t been an easy feat, adding in COVID distancing, masking and safety protocols,” said Seeds of Hope Founder Leda Eaton. “Through it all we never shut down and didn’t turn one person away without food.”
Seeds of Hope has three main ways of distributing food: through a mobile food pantry for local residents, through a weekly food distribution every Thursday from 5-7 p.m. at its food bank at 710 E. Bloomingdale Ave. that’s open to all and through the backpack of food program coordinated with local schools.
The increased demand means that donations are more important than ever. Eaton is thankful for the support she receives from businesses like FishHawk Pinch A Penny and others.
“Together we make a difference, one person at a time,” she said.
For more information about FishHawk Pinch A Penny, which is open Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m., visit https://pinchapenny.com/stores/lithia-fl-191 or call 655-3700.
For more information about Seeds of Hope and its current needs, to make a financial contribution or to volunteer your time at the food bank, visit www.sohopefl.org.