On Friday, State Sen. Jack Latvala will once again join the effort to provide local families free, fresh Florida produce to create healthy holiday meals.
For the 13th year, the Clearwater Republican will host a series of holiday produce distributions throughout Northern Pinellas County.
Joined this year by his son, state Rep. Chris Latvala, Latvala will partner with volunteers from the South Florida nonprofit Farm Share Inc. to give free produce to the public at three locations, each available while supplies last.
From 9 to 10:30 a.m., Latvala’s first distribution will be at the Citizens Alliance for Progress (CAP) agency located at 401 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. in Tarpon Springs. At 11 a.m., the second distribution will be at the Willa Carson Health and Wellness Center at 1108 North MLK Jr. Avenue in Clearwater. The final distribution of the day is at the Highpoint Neighborhood Family Center in Clearwater at 5812 150th Avenue North, and will take place 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
No documentation will be required for families to receive produce.
Farm Share puts on these annual events to highlight a disturbing statistic about hunger in Florida: as much as 40 percent of farm-produced food never makes it to supermarket shelves. In 2014 the organization provided nearly 32.8 million pounds of food — both surplus and donated — to more than 4 million households across the state. With over 25,000 volunteer hours, Farm Share works with 500 community groups every day.
Every $10 donated to Farm Share buys 110 pounds of fresh food distributed to churches, homeless shelters, soup kitchens and communities in need. As a direct link between farms and families, Farm Share uses inmate labor and volunteers to resort and package surplus food for distribution to individuals, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, churches, and other organizations feeding the hungry in Florida — without additional cost to community agencies.
Latvala has been a longtime supporter of the Farm Share program. During his first terms in the Florida Senate, from 1994 — 2002, he organized a number of food distribution events in Pasco and Pinellas counties and has participated every year since his re-election in 2010.
Last year, Latvala’s three locations served more than 1,200 families.
For more information about the Farm Share program, visit www.farmshare.org.