Within just one hour, Publix District Manager, Jeffrey Stilwell was impressed, and inspired to do more.
Last year, Jeffrey Stilwell attended St. Petersburg Free Clinic Food Bank’s annual Food Partner Agency meeting. This annual meeting is an opportunity to thank the 60+ food partner agencies for their commitment to the community by serving over 40,000 hungry Pinellas County residents each month. This is also a chance to thank our food donors in person, and for food partners and donors to meet. Our partners are food pantries, shelters, community kitchens, missions, residential programs and child care centers.
Jeffrey was in attendance to receive a Certificate of Appreciation for Publix’s role as a 100,000+ pound Food Donor. In that one hour meeting, Jeffrey was so impressed – with the community impact of the Food Bank and the passion with which the food partner agencies provide help to those most in need – that he was inspired to do more. He scheduled a tour of the Free Clinic Food Bank for the ten Publix store managers in his district. He reviewed the biggest needs with the Food Bank director and explored how Publix could help. With Jeffrey’s encouragement and leadership, Publix stores held food and toiletries drives, brought volunteers to help paint areas of the Free Clinic in great need, and invited the Food Bank to pick up at more Publix stores.
A year later, the increased impact of Publix’s support of the Food Bank is tangible. Jeffrey said that he used to see banana boxes at the end of the day – filled with food like bakery items that hadn’t sold – as lost profit. Today, those items have a purpose: to feed thousands in need in Pinellas County. That initial one-hour investment has grown into 450 volunteer hours and more than 240,000 pounds of donated food to the Free Clinic Food Bank this year.
Jeffrey was a speaker at the 2014 Partner Agency Meeting. He told the partners and donors: “I didn’t appreciate what hunger, was,” because in his experience hunger was indecisiveness at the refrigerator or no leftovers to heat in the microwave. But what he appreciates now is clear, as he remains committed and impassioned a year later: “We have a responsibility to our community.”
Thank you to our partners and food donors, like Publix, who encourage the importance of giving to those in need in our community.