The biblical commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” comes to life in Volusia County from the efforts of hundreds of volunteers who spend hours each week meeting the needs of the community.
“Most people are unaware of the growing number of homeless and hungry individuals and families in the area that are struggling just to survive,” said Heather Scofield, executive director at Community Life Center in Deltona.
“Hunger has become more prevalent in the area as the result of unemployment and insufficient income,” Scofield said.
“It’s a very viable need in the community,” Darlene Slate said, financial secretary at Deltona Lakes Baptist Church.
Deltona Lakes Baptist Church offers local residents of Deltona and Osteen free food from their food pantry on a first-come, first-served basis once a week. It also offers prayer time and has a translator available to help with communication. It serves an estimated 15 to 20 families each week through word of mouth.
Slate said: “the goal is to receive more food donations in order to increase the number of people receiving food assistance.”
Deltona Alliance Church is another local church that has stepped up to the plate to help people in need in the Deltona area. Every Monday, it has a free community dinner where the members serve hot meals. Last week alone, a total of 264 meals were distributed.
“Our goal is to always have enough so no one will leave here hungry,” Becky Cole said, volunteer coordinator at Deltona Alliance Church.
In addition to the community dinner on Mondays, Deltona Alliance Church members also provide tables full of donated clothes and miscellaneous items that people can have free of charge. Also, once a month, a member of the Volusia County Health Department comes to give health advice and guidance to people in need.
Another resource is an independent public charity called Community Life Center in Deltona. Community Life Center makes up a combined effort of 20 local churches and charities in West Volusia County with over 100 volunteers. They provide free groceries to 200 families each week and more than 600 hot meals each month, they also distribute to local churches and charities approximately 4,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables that they receive from Second Harvest Food Bank.
Other services of Community Life Center include cash assistance for basic emergency expenses, financial counseling, meal planning, healthcare advising, government program application assistance, AARP tax assistance and a homeless shelter during cold weather conditions. Their goal: “to create a one stop place where neighbors in need can find help for any of their needs,” Heather Scofield said, executive director at Community Life Center.
Second Harvest Food Bank makes up another charity organization that meets the needs of communities in Volusia County by distributing over 1 million pounds of food each year to 95 partner agencies that are made up of churches and charities. An estimated 150,000 families received food last year from those partner agencies.
“Our mission is to end hunger in central Florida,” Bob Thomas said, branch manager of Second Harvest Food Bank in Daytona Beach.
“The numbers of those in need continue to increase each month,” Thomas said.
Fundraisers and food donations from local grocery stores are helping to support these churches and charitable organizations to achieve the goal of fighting hunger in Volusia County.