Local organization has given away over one million pounds of food during pandemic

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — A local organization gathered on Saturday to celebrate an exciting achievement.

A Hand Up International said they have distributed over one million pounds of food since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Founder and CEO Jeanette Best said their organization is humbled to have blessed thousands of people during this difficult time.

Trane, A Hand Up International and Feeding the Gulf Coast partner to hold community food bank

She also said she understands the struggle some families go through to put food on the table.

“I have a very unique perspective, because I’ve been on the other side of it,” Best said. “So we treat everybody with honor and dignity, and we let them know that it’s not a handout, but it’s a ‘hand up.’”

The effort is a family affair, with Best’s son, Wesley, serving as the president of the organization.

He said being a part of the food distribution in the community is an amazing thing.

“To be an extension of something so big and so greater than ourselves… There’s really no words for it,” Best said. “And the satisfaction that you get from seeing somebody else getting to benefit from something so simple as just food in the house… It’s just amazing.”

To celebrate their achievement, A Hand Up International gave away around 30,000 pounds of food on Saturday, which equals about 25,000 meals.

“We’ve had people in line since 7 a.m.,” Best said. “We’re just going to give everything out that we have today… As long as the people come, and we have food, we will give the food out.”

The food distribution was made possible in part by Feeding The Gulf Coast.

Feeding the Gulf Coast gives out 10,000 pounds of food to those in need

Branch manager Rodney Wilson said it’s important to their organization to come out to Bay County and help give out food.

“Especially in Bay County, when they got hit by Hurricane Michael, they’re still recovering from that… Then we had COVID hit,” Wilson said. “The importance of getting food out to the community… hopefully we can continue to fight this hunger, and in the future, we’ll see a decrease in people needing food.”

Best also said they have a food distribution event every other Saturday for residents in need.

Visit A Hand Up International and Feeding The Gulf Coast for more information about their organizations and future events.

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