By Anna-Marie Menhenott
TREASURE COAST -- Pride sometimes gets in the way of asking for help. When a family is down on their luck and finding it hard to make ends meet, a local nonprofit steps up to help them make ends meet and to give them a helping hand to get families back on their feet.
Harvest Food and Outreach Center not only offers food at discount prices, but offers a plethora of classes and workshops aimed at enhancing life skills so residents can become self-sufficient.
"We help people from all over the Treasure Coast," said Deb Pizzimenti, community relations coordinator with Harvest Food and Outreach Center. "We want to help people develop the skills they need in order to become successful. Whether it's learning how to balance a checkbook basic finance, or if the resident needs to learn how to write a resume or needs job placement skills, we offer a workshop that can help them."
The center is well-known for its cost-share groceries that are a hit among area residents.
"Each day we get new items in. If a member of the center spends $5, they receive a free loaf of bread. We have people that aren't members who shop here because there really are good deals. It has become a regular stop for people while doing their weekly grocery shopping."
Besides the grocery store, Harvest Outreach also has a food pantry that supplies residents with food and toiletries. Although these items are given away, residents who frequent the pantry are required to volunteer.
"Those who stop by the pantry frequently are asked to volunteer stocking shelves, helping out at the front desk and working the front door. We don't give hand-outs. The residents earn what they get, that way there is a feeling of accomplishment that may run over into the job field," Ms. Pizzimenti said.
In order to keep the shelves of the food pantry stocked, city employees have started a city-wide food drive. The department that gathers the most food will be named 'Harvest Royalty' and will wear the title until next year's competition.
Last year's winner was the City Manager's office. This year, items can be dropped off at the City Marina, City Hall, Public Works Department and at the Police Department.
"Our goal is to help those who are under-employed get above the poverty level," Ms. Pizzimenti said. "With a large family, it can be difficult, and we're here to help."
Harvest Food and Outreach Center in Fort Pierce is located on the corner of Orange Avenue and 25th Street. The location in Vero Beach is located on Old Dixie Highway. To donate for the food drive, stop by any of the participating city departments. For information about Harvest Outreach and Food Center, call (772) 532-5007 or visit www.harvestfoodoutreach.org.