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Veteran with disability cooks, delivers thousands of meals for families struggling during health crisis

“I go out and feed the people in the woods, and I feed the people living in their cars,” said Air Force veteran, Tony Mansolillo.

Cooking is a labor of love for him, one that starts bright and early.

“I get up about 4:30 a.m. This was started at 4:30 this morning and this is an old fashioned chowder,” he said.

Meals made and distributed by Tony Mansolillo. (WINK News)

Doctors told the Air Force veteran he’d struggle to walk with his disability, but he’s on his feet every day commanding his kitchen cooking meals for people struggling during this health crisis.

“At the beginning of this COVID thing, I realized that there was a lot of people who were out of work and sometimes they’re waiting 10 weeks for their unemployment, their first payment. They need to eat, they need to feed their kids, so I took it on as a mission,” Mansolillo said.

“So Tony, right now, is paying a lot out of his own pocket for providing these meals. So each week, I donate fruits and vegetables to him and he’s just got such an amazing heart,” said Ann Usherwood Bittner.

A heart he shares with his community through white boxes full of food.

Recipients of some of the meals Tony Mansolillo is distributing (WINK News)

“Now we do between 130 and 160 a day. We average 750 meals a week.” Mansolillo said.

“Tony loves to cook and he loves to help people, so he was able to take his joy of cooking and help people that were hurting,” Usherwood Bittner said. “They give thank you cards to him, but the joy you see on his face when he talks about seeing those children’s faces when they get food is unbelievable.”

Smiles that keep him cooking as long as he can serve.

If you could use a meal or want to help, give Mansolillo a call at 239-269-8000.

On Sunday, Aug. 23, he will be giving away meals at a free health and wellness event starting at 5:30 p.m. at Hope For Families located at 2650 Airport Road, Unit H.
Reporter:Melinda Lee
Writer:Briana Harvath
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