Double Impact, Donation Match.
Donors put up $50,000 in Challenge Match! Will you help us make that goal? Hospitality Helping Hands began distributing groceries in West Palm Beach and within weeks has become one of the largest sources for families seeking support in the state. Nearly 1,000 families have been served with each grocery drop. Groceries are distributed weekly on Friday at our 3950 Georgia Avenue Warehouse location from 3pm-7pm.
The need is growing every week and we need your help. We have a serious concern over the state of our recently unemployed citizens of Palm Beach County. Food banks across the country have been overwhelmed, seeing a tenfold increase in demand. We need to ramp up our efforts, as we expect the need will increase exponentially. With unemployment rates at a record high and economists predicting “a catastrophic unemployment crisis,” our mission is only beginning. In this unprecedented time in history, we must come together to alleviate hunger for those who have lost their income suddenly and indefinitely.
We now have a way to make this happen through May - and we need your help today. We are excited to announce our Giving Tuesday Challenge Match of $50,000. That means for every dollar you give, it will be matched - which will generate a grand total of $100,000! With each Friday grocery distribution costing nearly $30,000 - this will go a long way.
$25,000 Matching Gift
$15,000 Matching Gift
Extraordinary Charities in Palm Beach
$10,000 Matching Gift
Our challenge Is to get this done before Giving Tuesday, May 5th. If you are unable to donate, reach out to friends, family, or business owners who may be able to do so. Despite our social distance, we are still in this together.
Our newly formed charity Hospitality Helping Hands (H3) has been providing daily hot meals to those who have been laid off by the Coronavirus since March 21st. To date H3 has provided over 140,000 hot meals to our community. The question that came up the most when people were picking up their meals was “where we can get groceries for our family”. After much research we found out that there was a great shortage of food banks and the demand far exceeded the supply. H3 then decided 3 weeks ago to start a weekly grocery pick up at its warehouse on Georgia Ave and Southern Blvd. The first week we planned to provide groceries for 150 families. We ran out in 50 minutes and had to turn away hundreds of cars. The second week we planned for 900 families and we were able to provide food during the 3pm to 7pm time frame but still had to turn away over 100 cars. Last week we planned for 1,300 families. We still had to turn away hundreds of cars. People started lining up before sunrise for a 3pm start time. Many people waited over 8 hours in line. We ran out of our planned prepackaged grocery bags at 7pm but continued until 8pm giving the families whatever we had left. The lines were 2 miles long.
The obvious take away is our current demand for food in our community due to the Coronavirus layoffs far exceeds the supply. Watching the demand grow over the past 3 weeks and talking to the people waiting in line we feel this is very close to a crisis point. The longer people have to wait for food and the more desperate they become the more intense the situation at food banks becomes.
H3 started providing meals at Howley’s the day after the shutdown started in Florida. We expected an immediate demand as emergency savings for most people is nonexistent. We have been able to stay ahead of the curve by opening 5 additional locations to Howley’s. The 7 day per week meal demand from these locations has seemed to stabilize at about 10,000 meals per day. At these locations we are able to keep up with demand and we feel like everyone that needs a daily hot meal is getting one.
The weekly groceries are a different story. Families need the basics at home to provide the remaining daily meals. This need is not being met in our county and I presume across the nation.
H3 uses the donations it receives to provide the daily meals to individuals and families and to run the weekly grocery pick up. We have assembled an incredibly dedicated volunteer base over 150. H3 has the current resources to run the weekly grocery pick up two more weeks. The estimated food costs to run just the weekly grocery pick up are approximately $30,000 each week. That equates to a $23 food cost per family in groceries per week. H3 is somewhat unique in grocery distribution in that we provide fresh whole chickens, ground beef and fresh vegetable’s as well as diapers, paper goods and pet supplies. To date H3 has provided to needy families over 13,000 pounds of fresh chicken, 11,000 pounds of fresh beef, 30,000 diapers and 5,000 pounds of pet food.
In the first week of H3 grocery distribution we received approximately 75% of our product donated. This ratio has been reversed in the last weeks to H3 having to purchase 75% of our product. This is attributed to our local farms closing down for the season and the anticipated depletion of food donations from our suppliers over the weeks.
We need funding to continue and expand our grocery distribution to needy families. H3 would rather focus its efforts on just the daily meal donations through our partner restaurants and not have to run a food distribution center but it is too late for that now. The families expect it every week, they count on it, they desperately need it and at the moment there is no other agency able to pick up the demand.
We would suggest a coordinated effort from multiple municipalities throughout Palm Beach County in order to fund this and additional food distribution efforts. In our estimation to meet current demand there would need to be 7 day a week distribution centers on the scale of providing weekly groceries to 1,500 family’s per day. This demand may increase rapidly. If needed H3 could add an additional day or two to our current distribution. In an effort to reduce the long wait times we would set different pick up days based on odd or even license plate numbers.
We would also recommend a food/hunger task force that would effectively combine resources and purchasing power to oversee these distribution centers. There is no coordinated effort and there are many opportunities that are not being taken advantage of because of the lack of coordination. Watching thousands of gallons of milk being poured down drains in our state and crops plowed over are just a couple of examples. With the help of state and local officials we can take advantage of these waists and divert them to the families in need.
Our immediate need is funds to continue purchasing food to keep our current weekly distribution going. The State of New York announced a 25-million-dollar grant to keep the food banks supplied. Two-mile-long food lines is not a good optic in any county, state or country. We have the ability to remedy it with a comparatively tiny budget and some coordination and keep at least Palm Beach County out of the food line crisis headlines and perhaps a more favorable story of how one county solved the food bank crisis.
We would welcome any elected official or community leader to stop by this Friday from 3pm to 7pm and see the lines and speak with some of the families in desperate need at 3950 Georgia Ave. West Palm Beach, Florida 33405.
H3 surveyed over 7,000 individuals and families who have received meals and groceries from H3 over the past 30 days. The map and associated data show the county wide impact the H3 programs have had on our community. The reach is throughout Palm Beach County and beyond. Although our distribution center is located in the City of West Palm Beach it is obvious families drive from all over the county to pick up the groceries they need.
- Rodney Mayo