TARPON SPRINGS — One week before Thanksgiving the giving spirt was in the air in Tarpon Springs, as dozens of volunteers handed out free food to dozens of residents at the city’s annual Farm Share event.
Sponsored locally by state Rep. Chris Sprowls and the Citizens Alliance for Progress, Farm Share is a national initiative to alleviate hunger by distributing surplus food, and it’s all about giving back to the community.
On Nov. 16, Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, was joined by state Sen.-elect Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, Tarpon Springs Commissioner David Banther and many others in packing and distributing plastic bags filled with Thanksgiving dinner fixings to grateful residents who lined the Union Academy Family Center parking lot at 401 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
“We’ve been blessed to put on this event every year since I was elected in 2014 because it’s so helpful for the community, feeding families at the holidays,” said Sprowls, who was elected to his third term earlier this month.
“This event is a great collaboration between so many people and organizations, including the city of Tarpon Springs, the Citizens Alliance for Progress, the Juvenile Welfare Board,” Sprowls said, adding, “Everybody comes out for this. It’s a special moment for the community.”
Banther, who was there to support Sprowls and Hooper, said the event exemplifies what Tarpon Springs is all about. On Nov. 6, Hooper was elected to the Senate seat formerly held by Republican Jack Latvala
“It’s a great thing — just come and get food, no questions asked,” Banther said as he handed out bags on a sun- splashed Friday morning. “And to have it here at this building, which is now used as a community center and used to be a school for African American children, is fantastic. There’s a lot of history in this building, and it’s nice to see it being used for such a great cause.”
Benita Jackson, CAP’s program director, said they prepare enough food for 500 families for Farm Share.
“We get enough food for 500 families, and anything we have left over, we give to the Shepherd Center,” she said, noting the bags contain items such as beans and bananas, produce and potatoes. “It’s a completely free and open holiday produce giveaway.”
The Shepherd Center is a faith-based food charity that operates in Tarpon Springs,
CAP Executive Director David Archie added, “This is good effort to give people something during the Thanksgiving season and giving away produce really helps.”
One man who left with four bags full of food wholeheartedly agreed with Archie.
“It’s really beneficial because times are tough and they’re not getting better,” the man, who gave only his first name, Alex, said. “Nowadays, produce is more expensive than meat. So, I think this is really great.”