FORT PIERCE — On Thursday, June 15, Florida’s $116.5 billion state budget was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis after vetoing $510.9 million in programs and projects. Of the more than half a million dollars vetoed, a line item dedicated toward expanding Treasure Coast Food Bank’s career readiness and workforce training programs was included. The spending plan took effect July 1.
“We are incredibly disappointed to learn our proposal to expand the food bank’s workforce training programs was rejected,” Judith Cruz, Treasure Coast Food Bank President and CEO said. “This veto will have a direct impact on Treasure Coast Food Bank’s training programs and the prospective students eager to gain these sought-after skills.”
A total of $795,000 will not be allocated to Treasure Coast Food Bank this year for the organization’s training programs and certifications. The food bank currently offers an array of job training programs including commercial driver’s license (CDL), supply chain, culinary and food service, barista, and hospitality. The food bank will continue to offer job training programs but notes not being able to carry them out to the extent originally planned.
“Our programs are essential to increase financial well-being, long-term stability and meet the need for in-demand industries for residents in our community, while at the same time remaining committed to fighting the root causes of hunger,” Cruz said. “I am deeply committed to continually investing in resources and programs to serve the nearly 225,000 individuals we help each week. While this news is disappointing, our fight to end hunger continues.”
Last year, Treasure Coast Food Bank educated 122 students who have gone on to successful careers in these high-growth industries. The food bank planned to train an additional 160 students during the next fiscal year with the training program funds. CDL, one of the organization’s most popular programs, has a waitlist of more than 100 applicants. Without the funds, those applicants will have to wait longer to be trained and certified at Treasure Coast Food Bank, and not as many students will be able to be trained as originally planned.
“The people and my instructor, Jimmy Kern, at Treasure Coast Food Bank have given me the opportunity of a lifetime,” says CDL student Vincent Rivera. “I cannot thank this program enough for training me to become a truck driver. I can go into my new career confident that I learned and was trained by one of the best.”
To learn more about Treasure Coast Food Bank and its programs and services, visit stophunger.org.