Harry Chapin Food Bank says cash donations needed to support community

Published: May 25, 2020 9:38 PM EDT
Updated: May 26, 2020 8:40 AM EDT

For months, we’ve seen long lines filled with community members waiting for food. Food banks work around the clock to help Southwest Florida families. But, now, they need a boost themselves to keep putting meals on the table.

We visited Harry Chapin’s Food Bank of Southwest Florida Monday, where leaders told us they are accepting whatever donations they can get.

The food bank welcomes canned goods or cash. But, if you are trying to choose which one to give, the food bank says, in this situation, cash is king.

Feeding people in car lines isn’t cheap.

“We’re still seeing high levels of need,” said Richard LeBer, ,the president and CEO of Harry Chapin Food Bank. “We need more cash than normal.”

With 12 mobile food pantries a week and thousands of mouths to feed, LeBer says it’s all adding up.

“We are spending in excess of a million dollars a month over and above our normal budget to buy food and operate the food bank and pay extra labor and support what we’re doing in the community,” LeBer said.

But those dollars do not grow from trees. They come from donors.

“We’re very grateful for them to continue to support us,” LeBer said. “We need them to keep doing that to keep the efforts full, so we can continue to support our friends and neighbors for the next several months probably.”

LINK: How to donate to the Harry Chapin Food Bank of SWFL

Harry Chapin has two mobile food banks Tuesday, one in Immokalee and one in Moore Haven.

Leaders at Harry Chapin Food Bank say they are grateful for whatever community members can give. But giving cash eases their process and keeps them from having to examine and sanitize all of the goods that people bring in.

“When we go and get food on our own with money, it can go a lot farther,” LeBer said. “We can do a lot more with a dollar than you can, and it comes in in bulk already conveniently packaged from a wholesaler.”