Payback Time: Remembering Irma, Adam Putnam – Ag Department Helps Florida Give Back

Adam Putnam leads Florida’s help to the Carolina’s Hurricane victims  

Some of Hurricane Florence’s hardest-hit victims are getting a close-up look at Florida’s heart after the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services delivered thousands of servings of food to storm orphaned people in North Carolina.

Commissioner Adam Putnam announced Thursday that his department coordinated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pack and deliver USDA foods to disaster relief sites and shelters in the worst-hit state.

Putnam said USDA foods include a variety of canned, fresh, frozen and dry products, including fruits, vegetables, meats and whole grains. The Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness delivered 180,226 pounds of foods including these:

More than 122,000 pounds of fruits, vegetables and juice;

Nearly 46,000 pounds of meat, poultry, fish and protein-rich foods; and

More than 12,000 pounds of whole grains and pasta.

“I think every Floridian should be proud we’re doing this,” Naples resident Grant Parker told Sunshine State News. “I know our community sure appreciated folks from other places coming in and helping us after we got slammed by Irma. To me, this is what America is all about. We help each other when the chips are down.”

Florence, which struck the Carolinas as a Category 1 hurricane on Sept. 14 and bred tornadoes and floods on the East Coast, took a particularly harsh toll on North Carolina’s most vulnerable residents — tens of thousands of homeless, working poor and farmworkers, many of whom are undocumented. Homeless shelters saw an influx of people who rode out the storm at emergency evacuation centers but even now, two weeks later, have nowhere to go.

Most residents are aware that during a Florida emergency, the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services provides necessary food and water to affected areas and helps protect animals and pets. But Department staff say they get a special kick out of helping out-of-staters during their natural disasters.

“A year ago, some of these same people we’re feeding in Carolina might have been the ones bringing kindness to me and my family,” Parker said.

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith