77.8 F
Ocala
Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Second Harvest, First Step Food Bank merger to expand hunger relief efforts in Marion County

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is preparing to expand its hunger relief efforts into Marion County through a merger with First Step Food Bank, Inc., an organization that has served the local community since 1992.

The merging of these two organizations is expected to lead to increased food availability, which would help to reduce the current food gap that has grown throughout the county and nation over the past few years.

Second Harvest Food Bank and First Step Food Bank merger Derrick Chubbs and Stewart Robinson
Second Harvest President and CEO Derrick Chubbs (left) shaking hands with First Step Food Bank, Inc.’s Stewart Robinson (Photo courtesy of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida)

According to Feeding America, approximately 47,350 people in Marion County experience food insecurity at some point during the year.

“Our Board of Directors carefully examined the Second Harvest merger offer in conjunction with a Feeding America study recommending the same,” said Stewart Robinson, First Step Food Bank, Inc. “The Board unanimously agreed that the merger would better meet the widespread, expanding food insecurity needs in Marion County.”

Second Harvest’s new branch in Marion County, which will continue to operate out of First Step’s existing space at 4045 NE 36th Avenue in Ocala, will provide additional support for food-insecure residents, while increasing local revenue to fund hunger relief and prevention initiatives.

Second Harvest also plans to make a variety of secondary hunger relief programs available to Marion County residents. Initiatives for hunger relief, such as Kids Café and the Summer Food Service Program, which have been successful in Orange, Osceola, Lake, and Brevard Counties, will be introduced in Marion County over time.

“Our goal is to join the established network of local partners to assist in their efforts of providing solutions to hunger in Marion County,” said Derrick Chubbs, President and CEO at Second Harvest. “Not only will this new branch expand access to fresh, nutritious meals for our neighbors, it will continue to build on the many years of dedicated hunger relief work by First Step Food Bank.”

In addition to the Mercy Drive and Mercy Kitchen warehouse spaces in Orlando, Second Harvest operates branches in Volusia and Brevard counties. To learn more about Second Harvest’s hunger relief efforts, visit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida’s website.