PLANT CITY – The United Food Bank of Plant City received 22,000 cans of soda, 289 pounds of canned food and more than two tons of meat, thanks to the Florida Strawberry Festival and buyers at its livestock auctions.
The festival collected the Pepsi brand sodas and Publix brand canned goods by offering midway discounts on three different days.
Buyers of steers and pigs at festival livestock auctions donated a total of 2,457 pounds of cut and wrapped meat.
Food bank Director Christine Miller said the donations go a long way in helping feed the needy in the Plant City area. The food bank helped nearly 23,000 people in 2013, more than double the previous year, she said.
“We are very blessed to have a community, including the strawberry festival, that helps us meet that growing need,” Miller said.
During the festival, patrons received a $4 midway discount on Feb. 28 for bringing a Publix brand canned food, and a $5 discount for bringing in Pepsi-brand sodas on March 2 and 9.
Festival officials and Publix media and community relations manager Brian West were on hand March 25 to deliver the donations. Publix is a festival sponsor and partnered with the festival in the Feb. 28 canned food drive.
Strawberry Festival Association President Jim Jeffries said since the festival promotes agriculture, “it’s important to us that we do our part in making sure the families in our community are fed.”
Festival General Manager Paul Davis said he hopes to increase the annual food donations, including by spreading the word to livestock buyers that they can donate the meat they buy at festival auctions to the food bank.
Davis said he was touched by the needy he saw streaming into the food bank at 702 E. Alsobrook St. the day the festival dropped off its sodas and canned goods.
“There was one man who came in and said all he wanted was a loaf of bread,” Davis said. “You see people here that really need help. People are hurting and we want to do what we can to help.”