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Christ Church gives $40K for new food pantry for migrant farmworkers

Fran Osborn, Sally Rauch, Wiley Osborn, Joyce Fox, Jim Seaton, Jerry Fox and Paul Rake
Fran Osborn, Sally Rauch, Wiley Osborn, Joyce Fox, Jim Seaton, Jerry Fox and Paul Rake
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Christ Church of Longboat Key gave a $40,000 grant in December to Beth-El Farmworker Ministry in Wimauma, Florida, to transform its food pantry for migrant farmworkers.

That pantry is set to open in March, according to Jerry Fox. Fox has chaired the mission committee for Christ Church for the past 10 years. 

The long-lasting relationship with Beth-El is important to the church and they are excited to help this important project, said Fox.

Beth-El’s mission is to provide hunger relief, education, health care and spiritual growth for the farm-working community in Wimauma. The $40,000 grant will be used to build the new Client Choice Food Pantry. It will have three commercial refrigerators, two freezers, produce tables, shelving racks, shopping carts and reusable bags. 

“Right now, the Beth-El food pantry has bags of canned food ready for the farmworkers and they line up for two hours to get this,” said Fox. “We went last week and there were about 50 or 60 of the workers in line. Those foods they eat are unfortunately not healthy, or they're eating at fast food restaurants because it is cheap and fast. With this new pantry, they are partnered with local smaller farms that will provide fruit and vegetables for a small price and they can schedule when they come so it will transform the program and promote more nutritious meals for them.”

Along with making healthy eating accessible, Beth-El will offer educational materials and resources to promote healthy eating habits.

The grant is a recent addition of the mission work at Christ Church, Fox said. After the church paid off its church bonds, they decided to put the money from congregants toward making a bigger difference with partner nonprofits.

Since 2021, Christ Church has been giving a sizable grant to different organizations. Fox explained the church wanted this grant to have a sense of transformation to the nonprofit, to push it forward to achieving their goals.

In 2021, the grant was given to Harvest House to pay for the first year’s salary of the director for its new mental health program. Last year, the Christ Church mission committee matched a $50,000 grant from the Patterson Foundation to Selah Freedom to cover the startup cost for its consulting services.

Fox is also leading a discussion on the dangers of sex trafficking in the area that is sponsored by the six houses of worship on Longboat Key and St. Armands. It will take place from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 24 in Christ Church’s fellowship hall.

Representatives from the Sarasota County Police Department and Selah Freedom will be there to share their stories and connections to the topic. 

“Florida is the No. 3 state in the country for sex trafficking,” said Fox. “The area from Tampa Bay to Palmetto is tied for No. 1 in the state of Florida with Miami. I have lived in the area for almost 50 years, I didn’t know the numbers were so high until 2022. But Selah Freedom has a 90% success rate so this isn’t a fundraiser, it's completely free. It's an awareness raiser.”



Petra Rivera

Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.

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