Jacksonville, Fla. (Jan. 22, 2016) – Duval County political party leaders joined Feeding Northeast Florida’s new CEO, Luke Layow, for the launch of “The Campaign to End Hunger” at the food bank’s food distribution center on Edgewood Avenue today.
Lake Ray, Chairman of the Duval County Republican Party’s Executive Committee, was joined by Duval Democratic Party Executive Committee Chairman Neil Henrichsen to support Feeding Northeast Florida’s effort to raise awareness about the issue of hunger this political season, and support the agency’s goal to double the size of its Food Distribution Center in 2016 to meet the region’s hunger demands.
Regardless of the political party you’re affiliated with, this is one campaign we can all rally behind this year,” Ray said. “In the 17 counties served by Feeding Northeast Florida, one-in-six people, and one-in-four children, struggle with hunger – and over half of the people they serve are working families.”
Henrichsen echoed Ray’s sentiment, noting that “hunger doesn’t discriminate.”
“Hunger can affect any of us, regardless of our age, gender, race or political party,” he said. “It also permeates into other areas of our community – making it harder for kids to learn at school, forcing families to choose between food and paying for medical bills or transportation, and causing stress within any family facing those decisions.”
Ray and Henrichsen agreed that if the campaign is successful, “all parties win.”
According to Feeding Northeast Florida President and CEO Luke Layow, the agency hopes to raise awareness about the hunger need in this area. Of those served by Feeding Northeast Florida, 20 percent are military veterans, 15 percent are seniors, 20 percent have some type of disability, and many make choices daily between paying for food or things like housing or healthcare.
“We distributed more than 21 million pounds of food in 2015, but to address the hunger need in Northeast Florida we need to distribute 40 million pounds – which would virtually solve the issue of hunger in this area,” Layow said. “The food is available. It’s just a question of having the capability to handle the increase in pounds, and the resources necessary to pay to distribute the food where it’s needed.”
The speakers urged the community to visit www.campaigntoendhunger.org to sign the virtual petition and join in the effort. Donors can find everything from bumper stickers, to buttons, t-shirts and even yard signs to show their support for the campaign. Similar to a political campaign, supporters will also be encouraged volunteer, and to host campaign house parties to raise awareness about hunger in Northeast Florida and to collect food and funds to support the effort.
Having reduced the cost of distributing a pound of food by more than 57 percent (from 23 cents per pound to 10 cents per pound) over the last 18 months, Layow says the agency will continue to focus on the implementation of a “hub-and-spoke” distribution model to serve the area’s food pantries more effectively.
For questions, or to get involved, contact Michelle Barth at 904-930-4024 or at MBarth@FeedingNEFL.org.

About Feeding Northeast Florida
Feeding Northeast Florida (FNEFL) distributes food to people who struggle to feed themselves and their families across 17 Northeast Florida counties through a network of more than 180 nonprofit, faith-based and charitable organizations. FNEFL is an affiliate of Feeding America, a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that lead the fight against hunger in the United States. The most recent localized survey from the 2014 Hunger in America report shows that 38,000 people are served each week by programs supported by FNEFL. To donate, volunteer or find out more about eliminating hunger in Northeast Florida, visit www.feedingnefl.org or contact 904-513-1333.