After exceeding its fundraising mission, the group Feed Osceola will now be able to feed about 1,000 people in need.
The campaign raised a total of $23,635 after just several weeks of fundraising. Feed Osceola’s goal was actually to raise $10,000 in the community. Kent Custom Homes in St. Cloud offered to match up to $10,000, for a total of $20,000. But the campaign seemed to really resonate with Osceola County residents as Feed Osceola collected more than $13,000.
“I was blown away,” said Chris May, who owns Christopher May Catering and who helped start Feed Osceola. “The level of support we have gotten from this community has been overwhelming.”
The campaign was set up through a GoFundMe account. May said the financial support the campaign received far exceeded his expectations.
“All along, I was like if we get $2,000, I’ll be fine,” he joked.
Feed Osceola, a three-pronged approach to benefit Osceola County during the COVID-19 pandemic, was designed to help those residents financially hard hit by the virus with food and gift cards. It was also geared to lift businesses up who are suffering economically and to put out a call to action to other community members to mimic the helping effort.
It started with May, a chef, who also works for the Osceola County School District in nutrition services. He said the pandemic had just started hitting Osceola, when he wondered how he could help.
So he partnered with Courtney Daniels, owner of Kent Custom Homes. May and Daniels have collaborated professionally a few times in the past and he has catered for her family and Kent Custom Homes.
“It’s been a blessing,” Daniels said. “We’re so happy to be able to help. We just love this community.”
The money will now be used to buy the fresh produce from local farmers and the gift cards from local restaurants. Aiding the area eateries, May said they would be spending $250 at 24 different restaurants, 12 in Kissimmee and 12 in St. Cloud, to purchase gift cards they will give out to those in need.
The Osceola Council on Aging was chosen to screen families and distribute the supplies. Council officials said they would be able to feed about a 1,000 people from the money raised by Feed Osceola.
“This is going to go really far,” said Wendy Ford, president and CEO of the Osceola Council on Aging.
The council is already serving several hundred people a week, Ford noted, as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected so many people financially.
A huge benefit of the Feed Osceola campaign is the fresh produce that will feed families, Ford stressed. It will allow the people to eat healthier, not just the canned goods and pasta often stored in the council’s food pantry.
“They can actually make a real meal out of it,” she said.
For example, Double C Bar Ranch in Kenansville has already donated 100 pounds of blueberries the council can distribute.
As the third part of the campaign, May noted that the call to action has motivated other groups to help others as well.
“I have an immense amount of pride in the people of Osceola County for stepping up and being willing to help the people who need it the most, especially now,” he said.