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Food Pantry

The Food Pantry at Daystar Life Center of Citrus County is one of the largest in the county in terms of the amount of food that is distributed to people in need. Thus, it is the biggest service that we offer, because county residents who meet our eligibility criteria may receive at least one week’s worth of groceries up to six (6) times per year. The homeless may come for food up to 12 times per year, because they are unable to carry as much out from the pantry.

We buy the bulk of our food from the Community Food Bank of Citrus County, getting several pallets of non-perishable foods, frozen meat and poultry, produce and baked goods twice a week. We are careful to shop frugally, mostly at the Food Bank and at stores with discounted prices.

We distributed 152,636 pounds of food to 1,650 households 3,815 times in 2018 and 121,466 pounds to 1,583 households 3,521 times in 2019.  While 70% of those households came only one or two times for food last year, the other 30% came three to 12 times.  Anywhere from 300 to 425 households come to Daystar every month for food, clothing and financial help.  Our clients come from all parts of Citrus County.  The breakdown is:  33%-Crystal RIver, 15%-Homosassa, 12%-Inverness, 11%-Beverly Hills, 6%-Hernando, and 23% from the other areas of our county.

The homeless, who have no means to cook, receive foods ready to eat. All other households, which may include one to 12 persons, will receive enough groceries to last at least a week. They receive frozen beef, pork, chicken or turkey; fresh bread or rolls; other baked goods; fresh or nearly fresh fruit and vegetables; a variety of canned vegetables, fruit, soup, tuna, stew, and pasta with or without meat; also, peanut butter and jelly, rice, macaroni and cheese, pasta, sauce, cold cereal, and even snacks.

We are very grateful for the food donations from churches, schools, civic and social clubs, charitable organizations and individuals throughout the year, most of which comes from food drives or food collections for Daystar. Likewise, we are very thankful to the letter carriers of the U.S. Postal Service who hold a county-wide food drive for us and other food pantries every May and October. We receive anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 pounds of nonperishable foods twice a year from the Crystal River, Lecanto and Beverly Hills branches combined. Many businesses also donate surplus or leftover food regularly, especially Publix in Crystal River where we get a variety of surplus fresh breads and rolls three times a week.

We welcome anyone to conduct a nonperishable food drive (food in cans, boxes and plastic jars---no glass please). However, we can only accept items that are in original, undamaged packaging, which are not beyond the stamped expiration or "best buy" date.

Please call (352) 795-8668 before planning a food drive and ask for the Executive Director or Pantry Manager. There are some guidelines people need to know when planning one. We would also like to get an estimate of what to expect and when, so that we may plan our purchases accordingly.  We purchase and pick up food from the Community Food Bank every morning on Monday and Thursday.

We are happy to schedule our truck to pick up large quantities of food that individuals, groups or businesses would like to donate to our Food Pantry.

Fresh produce is the most difficult to obtain on a regular weekly basis.  We rely mostly on whatever salads, vegetables and fruit that supermarkets are able to donate to the Food Bank. Understandably, such donations can amount to being little and not very fresh.  There are truckloads of free seasonal produce fresh from Florida farms and orchards that are received by the New Church Without Walls and the Community Food Bank regularly.  Daystar is sometimes a beneficiary of this state-subsidized second harvest of Florida crops.  However, storage space and spoilage become issues, because so much is received at one time with short notice and it is difficult to get the word out to enough clients to take whatever they can carry out.

NOTE:  We do welcome donations of surplus fruits and vegetables from people who have their own gardens or orchards.  We are also happy to receive surplus eggs donated by people who have chickens.

Besides food drives and those who come in to donate food, we welcome financial support, too. Monetary donations may be designated specifically for food purchases.  Also, please consider holding a fundraising event for our Food Pantry as well as our other Social Services. We are so grateful to those who donate proceeds from their events and to individuals or families who are donating $10 to $240 monthly throughout the year.

Daystar would not exist without the generosity of our donors and the dedication of our volunteers.  Thank you!