Our Challenge Today…More space for more food, and better efficiency

Over its rich history of continuing the mission of “Feeding the Body, Educating the Mind and Lifting the Spirit of all Individuals”, Lake Cares has continually reached out to the community to fill the need for Lake County’s less fortunate residents.  However, success brings challenges and we have far grown past the capacity our current pantry space can sufficiently provide.

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Learn more about our first capital campaign and how our future home will allow us to better serve Lake County residents

Hunger in Our Community

Our History of Success

Our Challenge Today

How YOU Can Help

Donate to Capital Campaign

Addressing the issue of hunger in Lake County …

Today in Lake County, Florida thousands of children, seniors, working poor families, and others are experiencing tough times due to record inflation and the economic fall-out from the COVID 19 pandemic.  As recently as the summer of 2020, 1 in 5 individuals in Lake County were found to be struggling with food insecurity.   

In Lake County, 12.8 percent of residents live in poverty. Currently, more than 67,000 individuals each year benefit from the food received through Lake Cares Food Pantry.

The 2022 Lake County estimated population is 398,312 with a growth rate of 2.68% in the past year according to the most recent United States census data. Lake County is the 19th largest county in Florida. Compared with the population in 2010 totaling 297,709, Lake County has experienced a growth of 33.79% since this time.

It goes without saying that more food and resources are needed. Unfortunately, Lake Cares ability to continue moving forward in its mission is now severely limited by its current facility and infrastructure.  Future plans for new programs that can help feed more people remain on the drawing board until a more adequate facility can be secured.   

The time is now!

A History of Success

Since 2009, Lake Cares has been providing essential food for struggling families and individuals who are striving for self-sufficiency in Lake County, Florida, including, Mount Dora, Lisbon, Paisley, Howey-in-the Hills, Eustis, Tavares, Sorrento, as well as the underserved communities in between.

Lake Cares Food Pantry, accepts donated food from individuals, local stores, Second Harvest Food Bank and USDA (government commodities), and redirects to food insecure individuals, feeding program recipients and partner agencies working to help Lake County residents to a path of self-sufficiency.  

Lake Cares distributed more than 1.2 million pounds of food in 2022 and is on track to exceed this amount in 2023. Still, a large number of low-income residents in Lake County are unsure where their next meal will come from.  This includes senior citizens, (many over 85), veterans, working poor families, the homeless and others who struggle and face the high risk of hunger on any given day.

Over its rich history of continuing the mission of “Feeding the Body, Educating the Mind and Lifting the Spirit of all Individuals”, Lake Cares has continually reached out to the community to fill the need for Lake County’s less fortunate residents.  However, success brings challenges and we have far grown past the capacity our current pantry space can sufficiently provide. 

    Our Challenge Today…More space for more food, and better efficiency 

    Lake Cares must expand and consolidate operations to not only meet the demand, but to operate in a more efficient, cost effective and timely manner.  Currently Lake Cares is providing over 1.5 million pounds of food per year and serving more than 18,000 families compared to 2009 when providing food to 25 families each week seemed unattainable.

    Lack of our own warehouse and with the growing need for more pantry space, the Lake Cares Board of Directors decided that the limited space we are currently working in at 2001 W. Old 441 in Mount Dora is no longer adequate to meet the growing demand for food storage, distribution and the implementation of additional community programs to help in our fight against hunger. 

    Today, well over a million pounds of available food donations per year are being turned away due to the lack of adequate space.  To add insult to injury, much of this food is highly nutritious, protein foods as well as fresh and healthy perishable food items.

    What is needed is a single facility of roughly 22,000 square feet that consolidates all operations, pantry, distribution, warehouse space as well as adequate workspace for staff and volunteers, all under one roof.  The designated location is convenient to our partner agencies and also to the food donors and delivery vendors who route delivery trucks to our facility.

    The proposed facility will solve several current distribution challenges for many years to come: 

    • Without a loading dock, deliveries often have longer wait times. The new facility will have a low-loading dock in order to receive and maintain food at monitored temperatures for improved food safety and to maintain the quality of perishables.
    • Much too often, Lake Cares is forced to turn away pallets of free refrigerated or frozen foods for lack of freezer/cooling space, or dry goods for lack of storage space. The new warehouse will supply ample freezer, refrigeration and dry goods space for improved efficiency and future use.
    • The efficiency of the food banking process is due in great part to its volunteers – now numbering more than 260. In the past year, 23,003 volunteer hours were accrued.  In cost savings, this is the equivalent of 22 paid part-time staff.

    The Philanthropic Investment Needed…

    This is the first time in the history of Lake Cares that it has undertaken a capital campaign to garner the necessary funds to build or buy a facility. The need for a larger space was so evidenced that a decision was made to save the time and expense of a Feasibility Study and to move forward with a capital campaign to begin raising the needed funds for a new facility.

    In the silent phase of the campaign, Lake Cares has had a good start. A few philanthropic investors have stepped up to the plate so far, and have shown their support with pledges and commitments of their financial support to this project.

    If you, or someone you know has the ability to give or otherwise connect resources toward the rapid completion of this most important project for the expansion of Lake Cares, please call us today!

    Contact Ruthie Haffner – 352-383-0100 to learn about naming opportunities and pledge and five year payment options.

    CONTACT:  Kelsey Gonzalez, Executive Director
    Director@LakeCares@gmail.com
    Phone: 352-383-0100