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Dear Friends of Catholic Charities of Central Florida,

We are blessed to have so many opportunities to serve those who are struggling and in need of our care and compassion. Recently, we’ve had an opportunity to change the way we feed those who hunger through our former Semoran Food Pantry.

The pantry, in service for decades, has always been a “push” pantry – pushing mostly canned food and bakery items out the door to those who sought it based on the size of their family without attention to the types of food they might like or be accustomed to using. 

While this helped at some level, it also failed to fully meet them where they were. Imagine longing for fresh fruits and vegetables without the ability to obtain them.

Today, the Mission Market (blessed by Bishop John Noonan on May 15) is a ‘choice’ pantry, allowing our neighbors to choose the food their family needs - fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, bakery products, meats, proteins and canned goods.

Our harmonization of ministries with Second Harvest Food Bank is making all of this possible. We are not only growing our own food ministry – we are also working to harmonize our food ministry with parish-based pantries to serve those who hunger more effectively.

God is blessing our efforts gloriously! Please continue to pray for our ministries and consider how your contribution of time, talent and treasure can help us as we strive to embrace those we are privileged to serve!

God bless you today and always,

Gary Tester
Executive Director
Food Pantry Transforms into a Mission Market

Walking in the door, the first thing you see is the wooden fruit stands chock-full of red and green apples, bright orange citrus, green peppers and  tomatoes.  Large grain sacks decorate the walls and a large sign overhead reads “Welcome to our farm.” Shelves are loaded with a variety of breads, canned goods and even avocados and potatoes. No, this is not a farmer’s market, but that is the feel that Catholic Charities of Central Florida was after when they set out to transform their food pantry into a Mission Market. Read more...

How we Reassure the Uninsured in Lake County
Health care is becoming a luxury many Lake County residents cannot afford. Fortunately, there is help for them thanks to clinics and organizations that do not put a price on health. “Without St. Luke I don’t know where I’d be. I thank the Lord each day that we have an organization like that for people who cannot afford medical help. The entire team there is very helpful and go out of their way to take care of you.” - a client at St. Luke Free Medical and Dental Clinic. Read more...
How we Serve our Neighbors in Polk County
Helpful Hearts in Our Community
Thank you to all who attended our 10th Annual Kentucky Derby Day on May 6, 2017! Together, we raised over $50,000 for the children, families and seniors we serve in Polk County. Donations support the SmilePak Pantry & Backpack Program, Family Stability Program, Agape Food Bank and Lakeland Activity Center for Seniors. Click here for more pictures.
Students and service go together like pb&j. Thank you to 7th graders at Holy Family Catholic School Orlando for helping us feed the hungry.
Thank you to the George W. Jenkins Fund within the GiveWell Community Foundation for donating $5,000 to help us provide SmilePaks of nutritious meals to students in need in Polk County!
Volunteers at Agape Food Bank helped us sort donations at the warehouse, pack SmilePaks for school children and serve families at Mobile Food Pantries throughout the month. Thank you to our amazing volunteers including Stryker Sustainability Solutions and City of Lakeland Government. 
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