The Osceola Council on Aging (OCOA) has officially taken over the St. Cloud Food Pantry as of the end of January. The location, run for 16 years at 901 Missouri Avenue, is now in the hands of the Council which already helps feed thousands of families per week through its Kissimmee pantry located at 704 Generation Point, and Osceola Meals on Wheels program.
The Council will be able to serve the St. Cloud food-needy community from within rather than the “other side of town,” said Wendy Coschignano-Ford, president/CEO of the Osceola Council on Aging. “The new location will also house an office for several OCOA outreach and community service programs,” added Ford. According to Ford, the Council has seen an increased demand in the number of low-income households they traditionally serve so the food pantry demands have increased as well. “Luckily, our pantries rely heavily on the assistance of community volunteers who donate through monetary means and/or community workplace food drives,” added Ford.
Accordingly, the OCOA collaborates with local partners to purchase crops for meal production and food distribution. As an example, the Second Harvest Food Bank, Walt Disney World, and Mick Farms support providing fruits and vegetables; Publix Super Markets, the Treasure Coast Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and local government funding from City of Kissimmee, City of St. Cloud, and Osceola County also support our efforts. Food drives conducted by churches, community service organizations, private businesses, and individual donations also provide food. In addition, the Council’s agreements with four trucking companies accept food overages refused by local grocers and distributed (based upon availability) through the Food Pantry.
The Council also utilizes locally donated fresh and canned foods along with food purchased through nutrition grants to provide comprehensive food packages. Accordingly, both food pantries are open to accepting donations. Food items normally requested are both dry and canned foods that are nonperishable and can be shelved long term. Specifically, we need: peanut butter, canned soup or stew, canned fruit, fruit cups, canned vegetables, fish, meat and beans, whole grain pasta, spaghetti sauce, brown rice, dry milk, cereal, boxed macaroni & cheese and potatoes, pancake mix and syrup.
Osceola County has more than twenty food pantries, spanning from Poinciana to the St. Cloud region of Osceola County. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw an increase in nonprofit agencies and churches offering pantries in our community, including Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church, Solid Rock Church of God, the Calvary Assembly of God, Church and Community Assistance Program (CCAP), the Salvation Army of Osceola County and the Hope Partnership program who distributed food to the community.
The St. Cloud Food Pantry will be open every Tuesday & Thursday from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. Sign-up will need to be completed at osceolagenerations.org.
Submitted by the Osceola Council On Aging