CAPE CORAL- Every month more than 200 Cape Coral families are asking for help from food pantries.
That's up 50% in the last two years.
To meet the need, a new, unique food pantry and cafe opened its doors Friday.
"We're moving away from the idea of a soup kitchen...where trays of food are presented," said Sarah Owens, CEO of Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc.
For the past year and a half, Sarah Owens says CCMI worked to meet the hunger need in Cape Coral, while trying to reduce the stigma of getting help from a food pantry.
The result is the new Marketplace and Everyday Cafe.
The pantry is a choice marketplace, meaning you get to pick out the food you want.
The choices range range from fresh veggies and fruit to pasta.
"It's almost like going to the grocery store," said Pat Turner, of Cape Coral.
"It's very homey. I feel more comfortable here," said Susan Deliver, also of Cape Coral.
Susan Deliver is a victim of the recession. She got laid off from her job last year. Since then she has been struggling to put food on the table.
She says the new choice marketplace eliminates the anxiety and embarrassment of going to a food pantry.
Sarah Owens says the marketplace also reduces the amount of donated food wasted.
"The choice model really reduces food waste because your family comes in and selects the food that they would eat for the week," she said.
Connected to the Marketplace is the Everyday Cafe.
The Cafe is open to anyone in Cape Coral. It's purpose is to create an inviting atmosphere, like a restaurant. There's a menu, which allows you to choose different types of food.
Those who can make a small donation are encouraged to. If you can't, that's okay too.
All services at the facility are free and open to anyone in Cape Coral. J
ob workshops and budget courses are also offered to help people get back on their feet.
The Marketplace and Everyday Cafe is located at 1105 Cultural Park Blvd.
The cafe is open Monday-Friday 10:30a-1:00pm. The Marketplace is open Monday, Tesuday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:30a-1:00pm.
Food donations can be made between 10am to 2:30pm during the week.