Harry Chapin Food Bank says food insecurity down in SWFL

A local nonprofit says fewer people have to worry about where their next meal will come from. Community support is helping beat hunger in our area. But advocates also say accessibility for all communities is still a priority, especially in Southwest Florida.

One reason for the current local decrease in people experiencing food insecurity in Southwest Florida are due to the mobile food banks operated by Harry Chapin Food Bank.

“It’s down about two percent, versus last year,” said said Richard Laber, president and CEO of Harry Chapin.

Feeding America’s 2019 Map the Meal Gap report shows the progress food banks like Harry Chapin have achieved but also work to still be done by organization like Harry Chapin, Laber said.

“Seemingly small percentages but actually have real numbers and real faces behind them,” said Dr. Thomas Felke, chair of the FGCU department of social work.

Harry Chapin also wants to provide more during other time of need like during the water crisis last summer.

“It isn’t just a matter of filling the overall numbers, it’s a matter of doing that community by community,” Laber said.

Felke said people are also starting to take advantage of programs they were once reluctant to.

“Our snap benefit rates are actually going up,” Felke said. “Snap is actually a program that supports the working poor in more of the lower, middle-class households.”

And while the economy has improved, we still need to do better helping those who experience food insecurity, Laber said.

“If you’re hungry in Clewiston today, it does you absolutely no good if I tell you I can feed you in Fort Myers next week,” Felke said.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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