The Harry Chapin Christmas Drive on Boca Grande has a tough act to follow.
Last year's record collection fell 20 pounds short of three-quarters of a ton, said Joyce Jacobs of the Harry Chapin Food Bank. The official total collected was pegged at 1,480 pounds of food.
The six-week drive begins today and ends Dec. 15.
Boca Grande Harry Chapin Christmas food drive coordinators, from left: Bob Elliott, Nick Kaiser, Joyce Jacobs of the Harry Chapin Food Bank and Thor Johnson. Not shown: Donna Lutton, Chuck Van Zoeren and Jim Cochrun.
This year, the Boca Grande United Methodist Church will be the only religious connection to the drive as two other churches - St. Andrew's Episcopal Church and First Baptist Church of Boca Grande - have pulled out of the effort, organizers said.
The Harry Chapin Food Bank feeds more than 30,000 needy families every day.
As the Great Recession comes to an end, the need for food remains great. The U.S. government reports the number of Florida residents on food stamps has nearly tripled in two years.
The U.S. Agriculture Department reports a record 3.1 million Americans - one in six residents - receive food-stamp aid.