Most of us have never had to go hungry or wonder how we’re going to feed our families. However, for thousands of residents in Manatee County, this isn’t the case. From home-bound seniors and hungry school children to families who just can’t make ends meet, Meals on Wheels PLUS has been helping the most vulnerable members of our community for over forty years.
The organization began in 1972 with the purpose of providing hot, nutritious meals to the elderly and disabled residents of Manatee County. Over the years, they grew and evolved in response to the needs of the people in our community. As their range of services expanded, so did their name. The organization is now called Meals on Wheels PLUS, because they do so much more.
In addition to delivering hot meals to homebound seniors and the disabled, Meals on Wheels PLUS now operates The Food Bank of Manatee, Daybreak Adult Day Center, Friendship Dining Centers, and an Enrichment Center.
The Food Bank of Manatee is the largest hunger-relief organization based in Manatee County. They consistently deliver over 4 million pounds of food every year through 100 partner agencies and food pantries in Manatee County!
Having trouble visualizing what this looks like? Consider this — in 2018, the organization:
- Delivered 36,310 pounds of fresh produce to their homebound seniors
- Distributed 18,000 weekend sacks of food to school-age children on summer break, providing 110,000 meals
- Provided a total of 2,500 Emergency Family Food & Baby Baskets
- Distributed over 3,300 pounds of pet food in emergency baskets and to homebound seniors
Are you ready to give back to this outstanding organization? It’s easy to do! Whether you have extra time, talent, or treasure, they’ll find a way to put it to good use. Here are some ideas:
Make a Donation
We get it, nobody likes to donate money to an organization without knowing where it’s going. But, when you donate to Meals on Wheels PLUS, you can feel confident that your dollars are doing what they’re meant to do. Thanks to their strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency, Meals on Wheels PLUS has earned GuideStar’s Platinum Seal of Approval. When you make a monetary donation, $0.95 of every dollar is used to support their programs!
Want to make a donation? CLICK HERE
Attend an Event
Meals on Wheels PLUS hosts some really fun events throughout the year. It’s an excellent opportunity to have a good time and support a worthy cause. Here are some of the exciting events coming up:
Stuff the Bus
On Sunday, October 20th from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. there will be school buses located outside of every Publix in Manatee County. Simply pick up some extra items when you do your shopping, and help the Food Bank “Stuff the Bus.” This awesome community event, presented by Mosiac, is put on in conjunction with iHeartMedia, the Herald-Tribune, Publix, the United Way Suncoast, and The School District of Manatee County.
Empty Bowls is one of our favorite events and is definitely one you won’t want to miss! This 19th annual event gives you the chance to “take part in a symbolic meal of soup and bread as we unite to envision hunger relief in Manatee County.” It might sound somber, but it’s actually a ton of fun!
Your $30 individual or $50 VIP ticket gets you entry into the event where you can enjoy soups, breads, and desserts made by local restaurants. You even get to take home your very own hand-painted bowl.
This two-day event is held on Thursday, November 21st at the Manatee Performing Arts Center (502 3rd Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34205), and Friday, November 22nd on Main St. in Lakewood Ranch. Both events run from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. You can learn more and get your tickets here.
Donate Your Time and Talents
Do you have some extra time to spare or have a skill that you want to put to good use? There are lots of opportunities for you to volunteer! Simply complete this form and a representative will contact you to discuss volunteer opportunities!
Organize a Food Drive
It’s super easy to plan a food drive at your business, faith organization, civic group, or in your neighborhood. 100 percent of the food collected from local drives stays in Manatee County. To get started, call 941-747-FOOD (3663), email Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org, or CLICK HERE.
Once you’ve made contact, all you have to do is let them know when and where you would like the collection bins delivered. When you’re ready, they’ll come back and pick them up. It’s that simple!
Donate Food Items
Do you have food items to donate? There are plenty of options:
- Goodwill Industries has food collection barrels at all of their Manatee County locations
- Drop off your donations at The Food Bank of Manatee warehouse, located at 3231 59th Drive East, Unit 101 (Monday – Friday between 8 am and 4 pm.)
- Bring your donations to the Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee office – located at 811 23rd Ave. East, Bradenton, FL 34208
Critically needed items include: canned vegetables, baby cereal & formula, canned fruits, mac ‘n’ cheese, peanut butter, jelly, boxed rice, boxed pasta, canned soups, canned meat, 100% fruit juices, breakfast bars, oatmeal, powdered milk, apple sauce, dried beans, trail mix, and healthy cereals. Please avoid glass containers.
Shop on Amazon
Did you know you can make a donation by doing something you probably already do? Simply designate Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee as your charity of choice when you shop online at smile.amazon.com and they will receive a percentage of your total sale. It’s easy to do and doesn’t cost you anything extra.
This Friday, September 6th is National Food Bank Day, so there’s no time like the present to make a difference in your community!