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Food drive, luncheon benefit St. Petersburg Free Clinic


"Soup's On," the annual luncheon fundraiser for the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, raised more than $91,000 and took in 4,600 pounds — more than 2 tons — at the St. Petersburg Coliseum.

The event drew about 500 patrons, who brought nonperishable food and toiletries for people in need. Men from Beacon House, the clinic's men's shelter, prepared soup for the meal.

Executive director Beth Houghton called food insecurity in the community "a tragedy of untold proportions."

Officials said one in seven adults and one in four children in Pinellas County are food insecure, and 7,000 are chronically hungry, or failing to receive adequate nourishment.

Houghton also spoke about the $4 million capital campaign launched last year to build a new women's residence affiliated with the Free Clinic. The organization receives around 150 calls per month from women in crisis and is able to accommodate only one or two, she said.

Soup Can awards went to corporate winners Kobie Marketing and Publix Super Markets District 17. Kobie was recognized for its holiday food drives; last year's, which brought in 20,000 pounds, or 10 tons, of food, was the single largest food drive hosted by an individual organization to benefit the Free Clinic.

Publix and District 17 manager Jeffrey Stilwell received recognition for the more than 260,000 pounds of food donated to the clinic each year, partly from store donations and employee volunteerism.

Joyce and Bob Chaput, owners of Robert's Mobile Home and RV Resort, received the Soup Can individual award for their efforts in organizing parkwide holiday food drives.

Area 1 Rotary Clubs were the collective organization winner for their extended volunteerism and fundraising.