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Tallahassee Food Challenge Supports Second Harvest Of The Big Bend

Bearded man in a suit smiles.
Brien Sorne
(used with permission)
Brien Sorne

For 11 years the sponsor-funded media campaign has raised awareness and cash for food distribution in North Florida.

Food insecurity remains a massive problem in North Florida. A Capital City marketing firm has again launched an extensive media campaign to help Second Harvest of the Big Bend solve the problem.

Brien Sorne owns the Tallahassee-based Alcom Marketing firm. He also hosts the weekly Tallahassee Talks radio interview show and runs the online Moose Magnificat Radio outlet for local music content. And if all that wasn't enough to keep him busy, he's also had a longtime commitment to alleviating hunger in North Florida.

"We actually started 11 years ago when, in fact, the topic was not as hot. People were not as sensitive to the plight of this county and the other 10 counties around us when it came to things like food scarcity, food deserts, and food insecurity."

The numbers are certainly alarming. Before 2020, an estimated 13% of Floridians were classified as "food insecure." The number for the Big Bend region was 14%, essentially the same. But post-2020, while the statewide figure is pretty much unchanged at `4%, food insecurity in Florida's Big Bend has exploded to 30% of the population. Much of the problem, believes Sorne, is simply the lack of access to sources of wholesome, nutritious food.

"People are hungry. And not only are they hungry, they don't really have a place to go where they can get good food. They don't have transportation. They don't have access to grocery stores unless they want to walk 10 miles."

Instead of just expressing concern about the problem, Sorne decided to get his company involved with supporting solutions.

"We're a marketing company. So let's take as our client a hungry kid and decide that we're going to gather those dollars from our sponsors that can then fund an advertising campaign. The Department of Highway Safety knows that if you tell people to put their seatbelts on, you have a chance at least to reduce the number of fatalities because somebody didn't wear a seatbelt."

Which is what the Tallahassee Food Challenge is all about.

"The Food Challenge is an advertising campaign. It is very effective and we'll generate this year probably 1.5 million media impressions, covering the Tallahassee/Thomasville market."

As with all media campaigns, Sorne says the objective is to raise audience top-of-mind awareness.

"The idea being if we can simply tell people, 'Take the challenge; fill a bowl and feed the hungry.' We can keep this topic in the minds of the general public."

And thereby generate more financial help for the region's primary food distribution nonprofit.

"They can go to: www.tallahasseefoodchallenge.com and there is a donate button right there front and center. They can donate to Second Harvest of the Big Bend easily enough just by clicking on that button. And that means Second Harvest with their buying power can turn a $1 donation into a $4 buy."

Sorne says the Tallahassee Food Challenge will continue through the rest of this month and into the first week of July.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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