SARASOTA/DESOTO COUNTIES, FL – All Faiths Food Bank has served DeSoto County for over 25 years and, in the fall of 2019, celebrated the official opening of its new DeSoto Food and Resource Center (DeSoto FRC) in Arcadia. Funded by six visionary donors and initiated as a pilot program, the DeSoto FRC was created as a hub to provide services and strengthen partnerships with other programs.
Building on their initial grant to support the opening of the DeSoto FRC, Elsa and Peter Soderberg have provided a three-year lead gift of $600,000 to help subsidize three new mobile pantries. These new mobile pantries will provide food to neighbors in remote areas of DeSoto County, as well as offer benefits assistance, nutrition education, wrap-around services on-site and compensation for a truck driver. The funding will be distributed on a payment schedule running through June 30, 2026.
“We believe collaborating with like-minded funders optimizes the opportunities for catalytic change and we will continue to support the DeSoto FRC as the needs of the community evolve and more is understood about how to best serve people living in DeSoto County,” said Peter Soderberg.
In addition to this gift, several other funders have also committed to funding the DeSoto FRC over the next three years.
In 2021-2022, All Faiths conducted two new community assessments that examined DeSoto County issues facing residents such as, the impacts of Covid and hurricane disasters on available services and gaps in services and opportunities for the DeSoto FRC to provide additional assistance. Based on the findings of the assessments, it was determined there was a need for expansion of the facility and additional services including food distribution, outreach, and benefits assistance in remote, unserved areas.
Paradoxically, in rural areas that grow most of our nation’s food, households face considerably deeper struggles with hunger than those in metropolitan areas. In DeSoto County, where agriculture is the dominant industry, the number of persons living in poverty is nearly 26% (the national average is 12.8%). With a population of just over 34,400 (according to the U.S. Census Bureau), median household income in DeSoto County is just under $40,000 versus the median income in Sarasota County of nearly $72,000.
The Food and Resource Center is unique in the nation and an innovative model for the Feeding America network. Not only is All Faiths addressing hunger but focusing on the root causes of hunger, which is essential to lifting families and communities out of poverty.
“By getting to the underlying issues causing hunger and ensuring community members are receiving the benefits that are available to them, All Faiths is strengthening family stability, lifting people out of poverty, and offering prospects for a healthier, better future,” said All Faiths Food Bank CEO Sandra Frank. “We are incredibly grateful for the Soderberg Foundation and our other donors’ commitment to ending hunger and improving lives in DeSoto County.”
For more about the DeSoto Food and Resource Center and All Faiths Food Bank, visit allfaithsfoodbank.org.
About All Faiths Food Bank
All Faiths Food Bank is the only food bank and largest hunger relief organization in Sarasota and DeSoto counties, providing millions of meals each year in collaboration with nearly 200 agencies and programs throughout the community. All Faiths works not only to end hunger today but also strives to end hunger – forever – by helping families and individuals gain long-term food security, enjoy better health outcomes, and achieve self-sufficiency. All Faiths is rated 4 stars by Charity Navigator and is a member of the Feeding America and Feeding Florida networks. For more information visit allfaithsfoodbank.org.