ORANGE PARK – Impact Clay is taking over the emergency food operations from Clay County Emergency Operations Center and is setting up a home base at Celebration Church.
When emergencies like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic or Florida’s yearly swell of hurricanes hit, food banks become more necessary than ever. They operate throughout the year, giving food to those in need, but it’s during emergencies food banks are able to flex their provisional strength by helping the community. Because more food is given to those in need during these times, food banks, churches, local municipalities and other organizations steer closer to emptying their shelves.
Impact Clay is looking to change that.
“We’re pushing people toward food banks now and Celebration Church is leading that charge,” Impact Clay Project Facilitator Gabrielle Gunn said. “Everyone partnered with us and everyone that’s a part of this upcoming project will go there when they need food.”
The Impact Clay program primarily will serve as storage and clearing house for other food banks. Celebration Church will act as a food bank with Christina Mireles leading Celebration-Impact Clay project known as Food for Clay County. Impact Clay is kicking off with a large food drive and rally next month.
The idea behind is the rally is simple: each food bank or organization that’s a part of the project is assigned a specific food item or necessity. They’ll spend the weeks leading up to the event on July 25 stocking up as much as possible on this assigned item. They’ll bring this item to the food drive in July and by the end of the day, assuming each food bank does their part, Celebration Church will be a treasure trove of essential goods.
This will turn Celebration into a home base of sorts as it will act as the food bank for food banks. If a food bank is running low on canned vegetables, they can ideally replenish their goods with a quick trip to Celebration. The same goes for dozens of other types of items in hot demand at local Clay County food banks.
“The reason for this is that the EOC is getting people back to food banks,” Gunn said. “There may be an influx in people in need and the food banks are going to feel that. The goal is to create a food drive so large that it [Celebration] can supplement all of the food pantries.”
Mireles said this is just the beginning of what’s planned between Impact Clay and Celebration. She said it’s a huge transition from what the EOC has been doing and that she hopes it continues to grow into multiple partnerships throughout Clay County. She said if you’re someone not part of a food pantry but someone who wants to get involved, she suggested reaching out to a local food pantry. If you’re part of a food pantry wanting to help out, Mireles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find more information about the project at the Food for Clay County Facebook page.
“Impact Clay is super grateful that the Celebration Church has taken on the lead,” Gunn said. “The goal for this project is to be a centralized communication point and location for people that want to know about what’s related to food in Clay County.”