Community Cooperative serves families food items for holiday feasts in Lehigh Acres

It’s been a tough year for many trying to make ends meet. With Christmas days away, families are still trying to put food on the table.

There were long lines at Community Cooperative’s mobile food pantry in Lehigh Acres Tuesday. It meant close to 400 families would be able to put a Christmas dinner on the table Friday.

Community Cooperative packed two trunks full of food, but the need was so great, that wasn’t enough to feed all the families in the drive-thru line that stretched all around Veterans Park.

More than nine months since the pandemic started, food pantry lines still have high demand. The Community Cooperative event was no exception.

“A lot of them are having a hard time, lost their jobs, are short on money this year,” said Rebecca Busby, a food programs manager for Community Cooperative.

Families in need waited in this line. The line stretched as far as the eye could see.

“It’s been about the same all year round,” Busby said. “Since we started bumping up our mobile food pantries in July since COVID, it’s been staying pretty steady through the year. We are feeding — we used to do 1,000 families a month. Now, we’re doing at [3,000] to 4,000 a month.”

Community Cooperative volunteers such as Riley Newburg picked up turkeys, onions and tomatoes for those waiting in line and packed them into the cars of families.

“It was nice to help people who needed food who can’t get it,” Newburg said.

“It’s a part of giving,” Matt Newburg said. “The holidays are just a part of helping other people to not go hungry.”

Hundreds of families experiencing food insecurity were helped for the holidays, but some still left without.

“It is typical to run out of food here in Lehigh, Matt Newburg said.

“The Lehigh and Cape Coral locations are usually line down for miles and miles, and usually, we can’t even get to the end of the line, especially this month,” Busby said.

The event in Lehigh Acres was the last food pantry for the year through the Community Cooperative in the area. The organization’s mobile food pantries kick back up Jan. 8, 2021 in Cape Coral.

Community Cooperative seeks volunteers for Meals on Wheels

With the growing need for meals to be delivered to homebound neighbors who can’t shop or cook for themselves, Community Cooperative has returned its Meals on Wheels services to five days per week and seeks volunteer drivers to serve throughout Lee County.

Anyone interested in helping, how to donate or to learn about volunteer requirements and opportunities can visit the Community Cooperative website. For information about volunteering for Meals on Wheels, you can call 239-337-1055.

Reporter:Andryanna Sheppard
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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