Hunger help beyond the grocery bag

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. - Onions sizzle in a pan. But this isn't a cooking class. The shelves are filled with dried goods from tuna to rice. It's not a supermarket, but more than 100-thousand people rely on this organization for food every day.

This is the new "Your Plate" facility off Orange Avenue in Fort Pierce.

Just opened by the Treasure Coast Food Bank , it's a place for more than just food distribution. There will be classes on healthy eating and nutrition, as well as financial literacy.

"What we're trying to do is to create an environment for people who are seeking assistance to make it as pleasant an experience as possible and create some empowerment within their lives," says Judy Cruz with the Treasure Coast Food Bank.

What's also different here is something called the "Client Choice pantry". In the past, people were just given a box of food regardless of dietary or other cultural considerations.

"We want to be able to feed hungry people but we also want to eliminate waste so the Client Choice Pantry takes that all into consideration," added Mat Churchey, the VP of Program Services.

Then, how do you prepare the same foods in different and nutritious ways?
Retired chef Carol Levenherz is one of the many Food Bank volunteers who will share their expertise.

"I think it's every woman or man's dilemma when they go home at night, what they're having for dinner. So hopefully I'll be able to help them figure that out and use these ingredients to the best of my abilities," said Levenherz.

In the past two years, the food bank has more than doubled the number of people that it serves.

The organization is always looking for financial help with every dollar donated providing 7 meals to those in need. The goal is to eventually have Your Plate locations in all four counties the Treasure Coast Food Bank serves.

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