Today kick-starts the Central Florida Rotary Club's 'Million Meal Marathon.'
The Million Meal Marathon is an initiative that helps to feed local families.
While Rotary Clubs often host food drives on an annual basis for their local communities, it’s the first time 47 clubs in the Central Florida area are uniting to provide one million meals to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
“The need is really great, and so are the people of Central Florida,” explained Rotary District Governor Barry Gainer. “I believe that by working together we can reach the goal and help thousands of local families this holiday season.”
The club's effort comes as many families continue to experience the impact of unemployment and other financial hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a recent report, Feeding America estimated that one in seven people – and one in five children – in Central Florida live in households that may face food insecurity this year.
Dave Krepcho, president and CEO at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, said they are extremely grateful to have the Rotary Clubs band together in this way.
"It’s another example of how the Central Florida community has stepped in to help us fill the meal gap caused by the pandemic over the past 18 months," Krepcho said.
One of the clubs participating in the initiative is the Rotary Club of Windermere.
The Windermere location is supporting the program by delivering about 100 meals per week to homebound seniors as part of the 'Meals-on-Wheels' program and through a 'Seniors First Food Donation' where the club will obtain a list of needed non-perishable food items from Seniors First, that they need and that the club can donate, from now through the end of the year.
"Serving in this way is more than providing food," said President of the Rotary Club in Windermere Frank Krens. "It lets us connect in a personal way and provide social contact for seniors who are unable or reluctant to get out."
The Windermere club also serves and provide meals for the homeless at the Ocoee Christian Service Center when needed.
Another West Orange participating organization is the Dr. Phillips Rotary Club.
J.J. Lullen, the Dr. Phillips Club MMM Coordinator, said the club has already kick-started its participation by inspiring members to make the initial food drive contributions, arranging a food collection point within the Dr. Phillips YMCA, hosting a food collection at the Bay Hill Golf Clubhouse on Wednesday mornings, collaborating with the Boy Scouts in support of their Scouting for Food effort, making a direct donation to fund 1,000 meals for the Salvation Army's program to feed the homeless on Thanksgiving Day, and by advertising with flyers through their club website and social media.
"Our calling in rotary is service above self and ultimately, everything we do is toward our vision of building a 'Community of Love,"' Lullen said. "We are passionate about the thought that love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, and that love never fails."
Lullen said in the organization's vision of community, they avert failure through a commitment that lives the thought that no one has too much or too little. A food drive is one way the club cares for its neighbors who may face food insecurity.
"Food drives like this show the importance we feel toward serving to overcome my neighbor's food insecurity today, to quite possibly avoid any health insecurity, or something similar tomorrow," Lullen added.
The Million Meal Marathon will run from Friday, Oct. 29 through Sunday, Nov. 13.
For every dollar that’s donated to the campaign, four meal can be provided.
The goal of the marathon is to raise $250,000, which equates to 1,000,000 meals, by the November deadline.
Those who wish to make financial donations can do so here.
A second campaign is also being planned for February of 2022.