Platoon of military vets helps fight food insecurity in South Dade

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In the early morning of Saturday, July 18th, as clouds began blanketing Homestead with thick sheets of rain, former soldiers volunteering at a massive food distribution event organized by Bridge To Hope, looked at each other knowingly and smiled. “If it ain’t raining, we ain’t training,” they belted out in unison.

Their sunny disposition in the face of rainy weather came in handy. People in more than 430 cars had lined up on the grounds of the Redland Christian Academy on Krome Avenue, some as early as 3 am, to procure food supplies for their families.

“Before COVID-19, hunger and food insecurity was already a big challenge in South Dade, now we’re experiencing a 500% surge in need,” said Rev. Vanessa Tinsley, CEO of Bridge To Hope, a South Dade nonprofit that has been working to ease hunger and food insecurity in Miami-Dade for over 30 years. 

“The level of need today is unprecedented and we need all the help we can get,” added Tinsley.

The Mission Continues heard and answered the call.

The not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization founded in 2007, partners with other nonprofits to connect veterans to opportunities to use their talents and experience to make a difference in under-resourced communities. The organization is active in more than 50 U.S. cities and is structured around local service “platoons” that tackle challenges including environmental stewardship, improving educational resources, increasing access to parks and green spaces, fostering neighborhood identity and more. 

According to Kelly Auguste, Senior City Impact Manager for The Mission Continues, the Miami Platoon is five years old and consists of more than 1,000 members committed to making a positive impact in their communities.

However, with the arrival of the novel coronavirus, the organization has expanded its mission to include fighting food insecurity under an initiative called Operation Nourish. That was the catalyst that connected them to Bridge To Hope.

“We are so excited about this new partnership and to answer the call and send our veterans, who served our nation, to now go serve our community,” said Auguste.

The July food distribution effort was their first collaboration and was, by all accounts, a great success. In just five hours, teams from Bridge To Hope, The Mission Continues and volunteers from other organizations, were able to feed an estimated 2,000 individuals despite the bad weather. It was so successful, in fact, that before the day was over, everyone agreed to schedule another food distribution event for Saturday, Aug. 15th.

Auguste, whose husband separated from the military in 2015, likens the transition to civilian life to a sometimes “dark road.”

“When they separate from the military, many vets feel a sense of loss and a need for belonging, for my family the solution was in finding the power of giving back and to wrap our love around our community,” she said.

For more information, contact: Danilo Vargas , Accelerate South Dade, Manager          10700 Caribbean Blvd., Suite 301, Cutler Bay, FL 33189 Office: 786-732-0774 dvargas@nanafl.org

The organization is active in more than 50 U.S. cities and is structured around local service “platoons” that tackle challenges including environmental stewardship, improving educational resources, increasing access to parks and green spaces, fostering neighborhood identity and more.


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