Foodmobile rolls into region

Lakesha Sheppard, administrative assistant for Catholic Charities, puts away excess food Tuesday. Sheppard said that she prepackaged 40 bags of food for the hungry. Each bag contains canned goods and dry goods and non-perishable items.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 at 12:35 a.m.
WILLISTON - The new attraction in town, a 38-foot recreational vehicle, was not particularly glitzy, but it got the job done.
Catholic Charities arrived in the parking lot of Holy Family Catholic Church shortly before 10 a.m. Tuesday with a 1985 Holiday Rambler loaded with food. For the next four hours, anyone who needed help was welcomed inside and given a box of groceries large enough to put a few meals on the table.
"Catholic Charities has had a food pantry for a long time at our offices in Gainesville and Lake City and High Springs but our budget wasn't large enough to put food pantries in all the counties we serve, so we decided to take this service to the people who needed it," said chief operating officer Gwain Davis.
They have a goal to serve 19,000 people annually in Bradford, Dixie, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Hamilton, Levy, Suwannee and Union counties. About 93 percent probably will not be Catholic, Davis said.
"Our mission is to serve anyone in need," said Terry Pollock, the charity's emergency services manager.
The food that's distributed comes from food drives, such as those conducted by the Boy Scouts and postal workers, as well as food donated by individuals and organizations and some purchased from local stores.
The need for help is significant, according to Tom Barnes, spokesman for District 3 of the Florida Department of Children & Families.
"North Central Florida in general is the biggest concentration of poverty in the state," Barnes said. "All 11 of the counties that our office serves are among the 20 or so poorest in Florida."
For the next six months, the Foodmobile will be parked outside Catholic churches or community centers or other convenient locations from about 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In addition to providing food, the staff will provide limited counseling and referral services on an as-needed basis.
The Foodmobile schedule for specific sites will be updated on the Catholic Charity Web site at or will be available by calling the main office in Gainesville at (352) 372-0294.
Karen Voyles can be reached at (352) 486-5058 or

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