Thanksgiving is a time for family. A day celebrated with loved ones gathered around the dining room table for the traditional holiday feast.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many families in Broward and around the country who are simply unable to put food on their tables for Thanksgiving. At the Broward Sheriff’s Office, we have made it a Thanksgiving tradition to ease the burden, bring some joy and provide some hope for those struggling during this holiday. No child should spend the holiday hungry — and no parent should experience the pain of being unable to provide.
Each year, BSO distributes thousands of turkeys to families in need. I personally witness the anxiety and despair fade away as I hand out turkeys to families around the county. That’s what Thanksgiving is truly all about. We couldn’t do this without the financial support of numerous partners, including the Broward Sheriff's Advisory Council, which provides year-round support to public safety in Broward and also to our community as a whole.
Sadly, food insecurity is not just a once-a-year event, but a daily stark reality for many Broward families. In fact, around a quarter million people struggle to get enough to eat. That includes nearly 80,000 children who go to bed hungry.
That is unacceptable.
Ending food insecurity has been one of my biggest passions for many years. I remember visiting a Boys and Girls Club when I was first elected sheriff and noticed the counselors filling backpacks of the kids with food so they would not go the full weekend without a decent meal. The food was the club’s way of helping these kids make it through the hardest of times. I was both moved and motivated by this gesture — and made it my mission to have BSO do what we could to help.
Shortly afterwards, BSO teamed up with community-based organizations to distribute free food via the grocery giveaway food distributions. These events, paid for through the generosity of individuals, businesses and non-profits, are held throughout the year and around the county. They provide residents an opportunity to stock up on meats, produce, bread, dairy and frozen foods. Everyone is welcome to attend this free community event.
We do this not because it’s the nice thing to do, but the right thing to do. It benefits us all. Helping to relieve the stresses of hopelessness, frustration and despair is part of the solution. Troubled individuals are far more likely to steer clear of crime when their basic needs for food, shelter and treatment are met. These proactive community policing policies strike at the heart of the problem before it spirals out of control.
During this Thanksgiving season, I ask that we remember those less fortunate than us and all do our part to help where we can. From the BSO family to yours: have a safe, healthy and happy holiday.
Sheriff Scott Israel