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New Polk County food bank needs volunteers as donations surpass $15M

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Posted at 5:34 PM, Oct 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-25 17:41:05-04

LAKE WALES, Fla. — A new food bank in Polk County has already distributed more than $15 million worth of food to those in need but they need more help.

Every Monday you’ll find Melissa Hilligoss over in Lake Wales at Midwest Food Bank Florida, where she volunteers. She’s been volunteering for almost a year now.

“It gets in your bones. There’s just something about this place. The atmosphere is amazing, the people are amazing. It’s addictive,” Hilligoss said.

The retired teacher especially enjoys putting together Hope Packs for low-income students.

“Provides a nutritious meal for them on the weekends, because a lot of times these students come to school for food and then on the weekends, they don’t have access to good nutrition, so those packs help sustain them through the weekends,” said Hilligoss.

Midwest Food Bank Florida gathers food and hygiene donations and distributes them to partnering agencies, including food pantries and churches. They opened a warehouse in Polk County in 2020, during the height of the pandemic and saw their distribution numbers go up more than 130%.

“We just had a big donation from Clorox. We have given multiple palettes of disinfectant Clorox to the prisons the jails so they can disinfect,” said Ken White, Community Relations Manager for Midwest Food Bank Florida.

The food bank relies 100% on donations and volunteers, which are their lifeline and are always in need of.

“Because I came in and gave a little bit of sweat equity, a couple of families are going to be better off for that,” Hilligoss said.

If you're interested in becoming a volunteer, you can sign up here.