March to a Million Meals: Harry Chapin food pantry a big need in Immokalee

The Harry Chapin Food Bank helps people of all backgrounds and walks of life.

At Tuesday’s pantry in Immokalee, we saw how powerful that impact can be. More than 800 families received food. Immokalee is one of the areas that supply the most food to the region, but at the same time, it is home to people in need of food. Most of the families served in the area are of Latino or Haitian descent.

One volunteer said despite a language barrier, the gratitude was clear.

Gene Relf makes the trek to Immokalee from Naples to help families in need.

“Nothing but smiles and thankful and everyone’s courteous and they all wear their masks … you can tell that they need and that they are thankful for what we are doing,” Relf said.

Gerardo Gomez lives with his wife and his 13-year-old granddaughter. He lost his job during the pandemic.

“First they cut my hours, then I got sick and they didn’t have a job for me,” Gomez said in Spanish. “Only God knows how we will get by … We don’t receive checks from the government, nothing, we get nothing.”

Many in Immokalee who lost their jobs during the pandemic are undocumented, which means they can’t apply for unemployment benefits from the government.

“They are helping those who are documented only and since we are not, we have to go out and look elsewhere where they are handing out food like food banks,” said Martina Enríquez.

Each Tuesday morning, more than 100 people get to the Harry Chapin Food Pantry on foot, loading their meals on their heads and walking back home.

“I think it’s the best day of the week for me but that’s just me,” Relf said.


WINK News is raising funds for the Harry Chapin Food Bank this month as part of our WINK Feeds Families March to a Million Meals. We are asking for your help to raise $400,000 by March 1.

If you are interested in donating, go to


Reporter:Val Simpson
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