Elks Feeding Empty Little Tummies (E.F.E.L.T.) began delivering food to homeless and food deprived children on January 6, 2011, after we became aware of over a thousand “homeless” children in the Manatee County School System.  We were awarded a $10,000 start-up grant from the Elks National Foundation and in conjunction with the Manatee County School System, identified children ages five through twelve who were identified as "homeless" or living in "Food Deprived homes".

The Schools identify these children, and the Elks provide food through a discreet and confidential process. The meals and snacks are processed by over 100 volunteers, placed in backpacks and delivered to the school on Fridays for distribution.


The food items are non-perishable, recommended by the School Board Nutritional Department, and purchased from "The Food Bank" operated by Meals on Wheels of Manatee County, Sam’s Club/Wal-Mart, Save-a-Lot, Publix and other local groceries. The food is stored, processed and packed in two FDA inspected and donated facilities.  A local businessman has donated a 2,500-square foot facility in the Mount Vernon Plaza where we provide to children attending elementary schools in west Manatee County and our second facility, donated by Freedom Elementary School, provides to east Manatee County elementary schools. Both are staffed by over 100 volunteers from the Bradenton Elks Lodge #1511, the Elkettes from Bradenton Lodge, Lakewood Ranch – Sarasota Lodge #2855 and scores of concerned citizens from both communities.




Since January 2011, and as of the end of 2016, we have provided 570,320 meals containing 1,284,500 items to 111,720 children, ages 5 to 12 in twelve different Manatee County Elementary Schools. That amounts to 446,880 pounds of food (223 tons).


Volunteerism is alive and well within Elks Feeding Empty Little Tummies. There are no paid employees or reimbursed expense, hence no administrative cost.   Since January, 2011 our one hundred plus volunteers comprised of mostly Elks, and Elkettes and other caring members of our community have logged over 18,000 hours of service, and have driven in excess of 100,000 miles to and from our sites, including the distance associated with delivering the backpacks with food, picking up the empty backpacks and bringing them to our facility, purchasing and loading food and transporting it to our facility.  

The problem of poverty is pervasive and can be overwhelming. Around the world, more than one billion people are malnourished.  An estimated 1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. Every day children are dying just because they don't have enough food to eat. That's a tragedy that should not occur.  One out of every five children in the United States lives at or under the poverty level.

Though masked by our prosperity-focused culture, poverty is a serious issue right here at home, and the problem has only become more serious in our hurting economy.  More than half of all poor children in America live in eight states—California, Illinois, Michigan, Texas, New York, Florida, Ohio, and Georgia. Unfortunately, the children suffer the most. No child should suffer from hunger—especially when we can do something about it!

We are E.F.E.L.T.

2017 Executive Committee of the Board of Directors:

Jeff Mitchell

Executive Director and Chairman of the Board, Past Exalted Ruler Bradenton Elks 1511 8710 11th Ave Pl NW, Bradenton, Florida 34209 Retired hospital administrator and educator.

Rick Erickson

CPA Treasurer Bradenton Elks #1511 6818 7517 34th Ave. West, Bradenton Florida 34209. Retired.

Gloria Gardner

Secretary Bradenton Elks #1511. 2511 75th St. West, Bradenton, Florida 34209. Retired Restaurateur.

Carol Lynch

Retired 2731 72nd West County Director, Street Court West, Bradenton, Florida 34209.

Skip Waymire

Retired County Auditor, Transportation Director.  179 guava circle Bradenton fl. 34207.    


Mike Dinius

Past Exalted Ruler Bradenton Elks #1511. 3421 53rd St W, Bradenton, FL 34209. Assistant Supervisor, Bradenton Florida Police Department.

Janet Mitchell

2017-18 Exalted Ruler, Bradenton #1511, Retired City Administrative Specialist, 8710 11th Ave Pl NW, Bradenton, Florida 34209.

Clay Wakefield

Retired Businessman, Co-Manager East County Site 4908 Lena Road #104, Bradenton, Florida 34211.

Rosalie Wakefield

Retired Educator, Co-Manager East County Site 4908 Lena Road #104, Bradenton, Florida 34211.

Danny Tabor

Past President and South West District Advisor, Florida State Elks, Independent Insurance agent, 2704, Barnard Rd. Bradenton, Florida 34207.

Brett Davis

PDDGER Southwest Florida State Elks Association. 390 Fairway Isles Ln. Bradenton, Florida 34212.

Patrick Gallagher

PDDGER , Southwest Florida State Elks Association. 3409 48th Street West, Bradenton, Florida 34209.

Wayne Poston

Mayor of the City of Bradenton, Florida 101 Old Main Street, Bradenton, Florida.