Article and Photos by Chuck Weaver,

We, at the South Lake Tablet, have found that our community is the home of people with blended backgrounds, possessing an assortment of talents, interests, and experiences. Many of these unique people go far beyond their everyday routines to make life better for their families, neighbors, and friends.

Each month, the South Lake Tablet will place a “spotlight” on one of these residents who selflessly devote time and efforts to make a positive impact on his/her community.

This month’s community spotlight shines on Keith Whitacre, the Founder of Food Providers of South Lake (FPSL). Keith founded the FPSL to coordinate the many non-profit food provision organizations in the South Lake County area to better serve the food-challenged community. Keith, who is retired and enjoys community service work, volunteers and supports several non-profit organizations in the area including the South Lake Chamber of Commerce and the Clermont Football Club, a traveling soccer team that Keith coaches.

Keith, a University of Louisville graduate, moved to the Clermont area with his wife of forty-four years, Karen. He and Karen have three adult children, Kary, Katy, and Kyle, and six grandchildren. After retiring and relocating to Clermont, Keith dabbled with a few ideas and adventures but found his true community passion in the field of helping others with food insecurities. “I want to help people who are hungry and get food to their children,” says Whitacre.

This is when the idea of FPSL was born and has not stopped since its first “Share Day” five years ago. Share Day is an annual event in which local food providers come together to feed our neighbors in the community that are in need. This year’s event was held on November 18th at East Ridge High School, 13322 Excalibur Road, Clermont. After a lot of coordination and planning, the FPSL brought together Real-Life Church, Well of Hope, The Neighborhood Center of South Lake, South Lake Cares, Dorca’s Way, Clermont Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Give A Day Foundation, Kroger, Second Harvest Food Bank, East Ridge High School Kiwanis Key Club students, the Salvation Army, and several citizen volunteers. The organizations all came together to distribute fresh, healthy food that included fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and meats to an anticipated six hundred families.

Share Day is an annual tradition among non-profits and typically occurs right before the Thanksgiving Holiday to help as many people as possible have a fun and nutritious holiday meal with family and friends.

Keith states that the mission of the FPSL is simple–to “communicate and coordinate partner’s resources to reduce food insecurity while encouraging self-sufficiency.” Our vision is simple as well says Whitacre, “we want to eliminate food insecurity in our community. We encourage the participation of all organizations in the area,” says Whitacre, “but we also understand that some organizations would rather go solo and that’s alright too.”

Keith dedicates nearly forty hours a month to FPSL, on top of his additional volunteer duties. He coordinates a monthly meeting of the related organizations in the area to discuss and plan food drops throughout the year. Food drops are scaled-down versions of the Share Day events and are held at various locations throughout the South Lake Community. At times, the meeting agenda includes guest speakers who discuss food pantry needs, new immigration laws or practices that may be impacting the community, and job placement presentations that will assist organizations in helping their clients with employment needs.

When asked about the current economic atmosphere, including exorbitant food prices, Keith was asked where he envisioned the food insecurity problem in Lake County if the current atmosphere continues for the next few years. His reply was simple and noteworthy as most families have experienced a large economic impact on their family grocery budget. “We have seen a 20-30% increase already of families in need. The fear of eventually not being able to serve those in need is very real, but for right now, we are just trying our best and hoping that families will have good, nutritious food for the holidays.”

Keith is a soft-spoken man but has a heart that speaks loudly for the community that he loves and the people in it who depend heavily on his efforts. Area organizations have answered his rally call to come together and do the best that they can to ensure that no family member goes to bed hungry. “We hope that people will have food for the holidays and every day thereafter, all year long,” says Whitacre.

​Visit Food Providers of South Lake on Facebook for more information.
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