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12 Who Care: Susan King keeps her community from going hungry

The person who nominated Feeding Northeast Florida's Susan King writes she "instinctively sees opportunity where others may see obstacles."

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — First Coast News's latest 12 Who Care recipient is usually behind the scenes making sure families on the First Coast do not go hungry. 

First Coast News and the person who nominated her want to bring Susan King to the forefront to acknowledge all she does for the community. She is currently the CEO of Feeding Northeast Florida.

The person who nominated King writes she "instinctively sees opportunity where others may see obstacles."

Most recently King has grown Feeding Northeast Florida, the area's largest food bank serving eight counties, by twice the size it was when she started in 2019. But her story in helping others starts long before that. 

"I had been asked to join the board of BEAM, Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry," King said. "I flippantly said, 'No, I'd like to be the E.D. someday.'"

It was a casual comment. You can guess what happened next... She became the executive director and describes it as an honor.

"I never worked another day," King said.

You may know BEAM, the one-stop shop for financial assistance, food pantries and health programs, from its thrift stores.

"I built the thrift stores," said King.

She went on to help people without health insurance, becoming the executive director of the nonprofit WeCare. Now she runs Feeding Northeast Florida.

"During COVID, when our staff was frontline the whole time and our trucks are going and our drivers are going and nobody knows what the future is or even what day to day was," she said. "We were able to be of help and it was extremely powerful."

In times of crisis when nothing is certain, King and her team being there is. Ahead of Hurricane Ian, her team ran six food distribution sites themselves in one day.

"It's the best feeling in the world," King said. "It's to not feel helpless, to be able to give hope to people. It's an honor and a privilege."

The nonprofit faces new challenges like supply chain problems, but it's as King's nominator wrote: she sees opportunities instead of obstacles.

"We have an opportunity to do real, meaningful, powerful work that affects people on a day to day basis in a day to day way in the most basic of needs," she said.

The community needed you, Susan King. Thank you for all you do.

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