This story is an update from July, 2014. On Sunday, November 30, there will be a concert to benefit Elks Feeding Empty Littile Tummies at the Bradenton Elks Lodge starring Lauren Mitchell, SoulRCoaster and the Florida Blues Brothers. Watch this Friday’s (10/24/14) Sarasota Post for more details.
Attention to all residents living in Sarasota and Manatee counties. This story is an eye opener. Jeff Mitchell and a group of volunteers from the Elks Lodge of Bradenton and other residents are performing a heartwarming service. Their mission is to provide weekend food for food deprived elementary age children through a backpack program, and raise awareness in our community of the needs of these homeless children.
Elks Feed Empty Little Tummies (E.F.E.L.T.) provides meals, snacks, drinks, bread and other non-perishable foods to homeless children and children living in food deprived households. This is accomplished through a backpack program in association with the Manatee County School System and the teachers. I spoke with Jeff Mitchell to learn a little more about what E.F.E.L.T. does. “The food we provide is for Saturday and Sunday as typically these children would not have anything to eat over the weekend. For the most part, these children are in “Title 1″ schools, hence meals are provided at the school they attend. However, over the weekend they go without food, waking up hungry, and on Monday going to school hungry makes it hard to focus. These children are missing essential nutrition which can stunt their physical development, affect grades, and cause behavioral problems such as anxiety and anger. All, of which is associated with hunger.” This is a travesty, as no child, regardless of their situation, should go without food.
The Manatee County School Board, the school Administrators and the teachers have identified over 2,000 children between the ages of 5 and 12 years of age, who are homeless or living in food deprived homes. Jeff told me that “We buy food, inventory, stock, and pack meals in backpacks and deliver to the elementary school where they attend. Some of these kids reside in the back of cars, in group homes, and motels.” All monies obtained through grants, philanthropy, benefits, and donations go to purchasing food, as Elks Feeding Empty Little Tummies has no administrative expense. All costs such as manpower, mileage, gasoline, paper, are voluntary, donated, and in-kind.
Their goal is, not only to provide for as many kids as we can afford through grants, and donations of money, and/or food, but also to bring awareness to Manatee County about the volume of and problems associated with homeless and hungry children in our community.
Visit their website and please help. www.efelt.org