LAKELAND, Fla. (WTSP) -- One of the largest food banks in our area is closing. Over the last 30 years, Agape Food Bank served hundreds of thousands of people in Polk County.
Mildred McMillon, who runs Faith In Action North Lakeland, is stockpiling food at the charity's offices.
“That is because I don't want anyone to go hungry,” she explained.
The charity provides food to 600 elderly people every month. She doesn't know where the food is going to come from, now that Agape suddenly closed right before Christmas.
“That is the time that you're feeding all of your people,” she said.
Volunteers in Service to the Elderly, or VISTE, is in a similar position. It has used Agape for the past 30 years.
“It was a surprise,” VISTE's president Steve Bissonnette said.
VISTE gets about 75 percent of its food from donations from organizations, such as Publix. That still leaves 25 percent it used to get from Agape. Now, they're trying to figure out how to fill that gap.
Feeding Tampa Bay is taking over the role of the food bank in Polk, but it doesn't have a location in Lakeland. That means to get food, charities will have to drive to Tampa or wait for a delivery, rather than stop by Agape.
“I would say for all of us, it's an uncertain transition, but certainly one that Feeding Tampa Bay has been through before, and we're learning the process as we go,” Bissonnette said.
Both charities are still working out the logistics, and might rely more heavily on other food banks. They both insist the people who depend on them still can.
“There are people that need the food, and we will still be there for them,” McMillon said.
Agape, which is run by Catholic Charities, plans to open two farmers market-type locations in Polk County. Families will be able to choose from fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats.
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