Seeds of Hope Founder Leda Eaton (center) with food bank volunteers (from the left) Gabriel Rodriguez, Luke LaFrance, Sebastian Rodriguez and Dylan Higham.

By Linda Chion Kenney

As the COVID-19 pandemic affected the Greater Brandon area, more residents began relying to Seeds of Hope for food and support.

At the group’s Thanksgiving food distribution, 618 boxes of food, 525 turkeys and 500 grocery bags filled with Thanksgiving sides were handed out.

The group also runs a mobile food pantry for people unable to travel to the food bank and a backpack program that sends food home with hundreds of area students each week.

To learn more, visit www.sohopefl.org.

Original story printed April 2020.

Driven to “nourish hope among people in need through the actions and help provided by our local students,” Seeds of Hope has adopted drive-through services to ensure folks who need food can get it while volunteers keep their social distance.

Drive-through distribution has been instituted at the food bank every Thursday, 5 to 7 p.m., at 710 E. Bloomingdale Ave. in Brandon, in the parking lot of the Presbyterian Church of Bloomingdale. Meanwhile, drive-through collection drives took place at Bevis Elementary School throughout March.

Additional drives and distributions are updated as needed on the Seeds of Hope Facebook page.

“I think it’s nice; everybody sits in their car, drives by and volunteers put the food in your trunk,” said Ellis ‘Lois’ Donaldson, a Seeds of Hope beneficiary.

“It’s efficient and it works really well,” added Sebastian Rodriguez, a Newsome High freshman. “For me personally, and most of the kids here, we take this seriously because people come here every week for food, and if we’re not here they can’t feed themselves or their families.”

After cutting its teeth on Hurricane Irma, the all-volunteer Seeds of Hope charity, established 10 years ago in Lithia, is faced again with another major crisis, with Founder Leda Eaton at the helm working tirelessly alongside volunteers to meet the needs of neighbors.

Seeds of Hope is a registered 501(c)(3), charitable, all-volunteer organization which also provides a mobile pantry “that silently takes care of local needs” and a backpack program for students to ensure food security for students and their families.

The food bank does not require people in need to show identification or verification.

For more information and to donate, visit www.sohopefl.org.