By Brittany Llorente
VERO BEACH -- To help those living in poverty, organizations in Indian River County are joining together to give voice to those in need.
The Harvest Food & Outreach Center of Indian River County will host a half-day symposium will be held Sept. 20 at the Schumann Center at the Indian River State College Mueller Campus in Vero Beach from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
"Really, this symposium is to start a conversation," said Annabel Robertson, executive director of Harvest Food & Outreach Center of Indian River County. "We want to be able to share with the agencies and community leaders to see the gaps in the services and to find out what places can fix those gaps or collaborate to find how to fix it together."
Ms. Robertson hopes that the symposium will turn into an annual one so that community leaders that help those with poverty, or those who are interested in helping, can identify what methods have worked and what gaps still need to be filled.
But first, a conversation needs to start.
With more than one in six Floridians living in poverty, the Center's demand is high.
In 2012, the Center served an average of 370 families a day through its two Cost Share Grocery Centers, 1,267 families in crisis received emergency food boxes and 1,758 clients received crisis counseling to help stabilize their crisis situation.
Still, there is more need and in different aspects.
In Indian River County there is a large concern about accessing funding for houses and there is no temporary transient housing, Ms. Roberts said.
"There is no shelter for single people," she said. "It is a family shelter and you have to have a family to stay there. There are also other areas including finding jobs, job training and as a community we need to come together to help resolve these issues."
The symposium will be organized in a three-fold focus. First is to identify the current services available, second to identify needs and third to pinpoint the gaps in services.
For organizations working in the fields of poverty relief, attendance is encouraged to help lay groundwork.
A continental breakfast and refreshments will be served.
For more information or to register, call (772) 332-8601 or email Annabel@harvestfoodoutreach.org.