Over the weekend, Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys and made its way up Florida’s west coast. The storm battered the state with high winds, torrential rainfall and storm surges. Irma was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm on Monday. However, 5 million people are without power, more than 100,000 people are in shelters and the full extent of the storm’s damage across the state is not yet known.
Last week, before the storm made landfall, Kevin Povich, Director of Operations at the Westmoreland County Food Bank received an email from Gary Porter, Director of Community Relations at the Treasure Coast Food Bank in Fort Pierce, Florida with a request for assistance with water. Mr. Povich had met their Director of Operations last month at a Feeding America Operations Conference in Atlanta. During the conference they had exchanged contact information so that if there was ever an opportunity to share product they would be able to keep one another in mind. Little did he know he would be called upon for help so soon.
Kevin began making phone calls to local retail suppliers and received word from SUPERVALU in New Stanton that they were willing to supply a trailer load of water for the needs in Florida. Mr. Povich immediately made contact with Feeding America – the nation’s largest hunger fighting organization, of which the Westmoreland County Food Bank and Treasure Coast Food Bank are certified affiliate members, who are spearheading logistics for shipping food and water to disaster stricken Food Banks throughout Texas, Florida, and all areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
On Monday, the Westmoreland County Food Bank picked up the water at SUPERVALU and Feeding America arranged and paid for a common carrier trucking company to pick up the water and begin its journey to those who desperately need it in Florida via the Treasure Coast Food Bank.
“We are happy to be able to help our sister Food Bank in Florida with the donated water. Kevin and his team do an excellent job in working with other Food Banks to obtain product and share product and we are very happy that we are able to help in this manner,” stated Kris Douglas, Chief Executive Officer with the Westmoreland County Food Bank. “We are also very grateful and humbled by the generous donation from SUPERVALU. They have been our partner in the fight against hunger for many years, but this is just a fantastic show of compassion and empathy for our fellow American who are suffering right now,” continued Douglas.
At this time the Westmoreland County Food Bank will not be accepting donated food to send to the Hurricane areas. “Under advisement it is best to send requested product, such as water or trailer loads of needed items, or to encourage the public that would like to help to donate money to Feeding America so that they can obtain needed and necessary product,” stated Kevin Povich. The Food Banks effected by disasters such as Hurricane Irma and Harvey do not have the current capacity to accept donated food because they do not have the volunteers and man power to sort the food to make sure that it is safe for consumption as they are dealing with an already very vulnerable population. “Many, if not all of their employees and volunteers are dealing with taking care of recovery efforts with their own homes and family,” Mr. Povich continued.
If you wish to make a donation to assist Feeding America to help the stricken Food Banks get back up, running, and feeding people, please visit their website at www.feedingamerica.org. If you have any questions about the Westmoreland County Food Bank, please contact them at 724.468.8660 or visit their website at www.westmorelandfoodbank.org.
“As we commemorate our 35th Anniversary this year, we ask that you keep the people of Florida, Texas and all of the states affected in your thoughts and prayers,” stated Mr. Douglas. “They are going to need our help for many months to come.”
About Westmoreland County Food Bank
The Westmoreland County Food Bank serves over 31,000 area residents each year including 9,300 children and 3,410 seniors. WCFB currently has 60 member agencies in their network of emergency feeding sites. Of those, 43 are food pantries in which low income consumers are able to access emergency food assistance throughout the month. Last year (2016), the Food Bank distributed nearly 7.3 million pounds of food.
50% of WCFB’s food comes from the federal and state governments and the remaining 50% from local donations, food drives, and Feeding America. Administrative and fundraising costs account for 5% of the Food Bank’s operating budget.