A total of 595 veterans and their families packed away cartons of produce and foodstuffs, thanks to a Farm Share program hosted in Kendall on Apr. 6 by State Rep. Frank Artiles.
A strong legislative advocate for the program, it was the fifth in a series that the Rep. Artiles has sponsored during early spring months in Miami-Dade County.
“Following the restoration of $750,000 for the 2011 program, we’re now going to seek a new budget of $1.1 million in fiscal 2013,” Artiles stated as a continuing line of veterans and family members were helped to a variety of nutritional foods by a corps of volunteers from nearby schools and organizations, including a large group of Keiser University students.
Altogether, Artiles said that some 4,000 veteran families will have received contributed foods during the five Food Share programs at different locations in early 2013.
Latest in the distribution events was on grounds adjoining the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, site of the new South Florida Military Museum and Vets Memorial near Zoo Miami. The new museum is being completed for a scheduled opening by May 30 when a Memorial Day program is planned for Miami-Dade veterans.
A continuing line of veterans received a variety of fresh produce, including cantaloupes, orange peppers, yellow squash, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, malanga and yucca, said Food Share staffer Mia Devane.
“In addition, each received a large bottle of orange juice, a box containing a dozen seasoned pork patties, and bagful of shelfstable food that included rice, beans, beef stew, fruit mix, canned carrots and spinach.”
Farm Share recovers surplus fresh fruits and vegetables bulk-loaded from South Dade farms and several supermarket chains that would otherwise discard unsold produce that is still fully fresh and nutritional, administered through a USDA commodity program in Dade and Broward counties.
“As a veteran myself, I’m completely aware of some of the difficulties our servicemen and women and their families experience in their lives,” said Rep. Artiles who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1998 to 2006, including service in March 2002 in Iraq.
“Luckily, Farm Share and the VA are able to provide much needed support to them.”
Veterans Administration representatives and uniformed vets were on hand in a separate tented area to provide updated benefit information, claims for compensation and home loan guaranty details.