Punta Gorda church helps hungry neighbors each week

Long lines of people waiting to get food are, by now, sights that have become commonplace. At the First Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church on 411 E. Charlotte Ave. in Punta Gorda, they hand out food on Tuesdays.

Rev. George Cooks says that since the pandemic started they went from seeing around 45 people to more than 150 each week. He says it’s a tough sight to see the church parking lot fill up with cars a few hours before the food gets handed out.

“It makes me feel great that they’re coming and that they know about us and that they’re passing the word on,” Cooks said. “But also it troubles me that to know that in a country that is so free, where we have so much available, that we have people who are still starving.”

Each Tuesday, the Harry Chapin Food Bank helps out the church with donations for a food pantry. Some of the people who show up are homeless, some without jobs. But all are thankful.

“Two words: mostly ‘thank you,'” Cooks said. “‘Reverend, thank you for everything…’ I’ve heard people come up to me and say that they were trying to decide between gas to get around, or do they shop?”

On top of that, First Macedonia also serves hot meals every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The church says it is having a hard time finding volunteers to meet the demand.

“There’s a lot of hurting people,” Cooks said. “We have a large staff here, but it’s still not enough.”

Reporter:Nicole Lauren
Writer:Joey Pellegrino
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