March to a Million Meals: Food bank sees rising food insecurity in parts of Charlotte County

These past eight months, more people are experiencing food insecurity in Southwest Florida. Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida is seeing a big increase in the region. In particular, there is one area where community members are seeing an increased need.

Harry Chapin Food Bank say parts of Charlotte County — where some might think food insecurity doesn’t exists — has seen a rise and now a need for assistance.

“I think it’s kind of an unseen need,” said Molly Chapman, the food bank’s partner relations manager. “I think people look at Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, and they see the affluent areas. But here, there really is a dire need for food and assistance, and we’re seeing that more than ever during this pandemic.”

Chapman told us, in the last several weeks, they’ve noticed up to a 30% increase in the number of cars showing up at their drive-thru pantries in the area.

Michelle Iocca never thought she’d need a ticket for a food line so she could put food on the table for her three children. Iocca goes once a week.

“Even with what was in coming from unemployment, it wasn’t enough to afford food,” Iocca said.

For retired firefighter Raymond Shiner, it was his first time.

“Everybody needs a little bit of help every now and then, and this helps our family out,” Shiner said.

“We don’t see it stopping until the need stops,” Chapman said. “And as of right now, the outlook is so unclear that we’ll continue as long as we’re needed.”

Thanks to fellow Southwest Florida community members, there is enough food to keep Harry Chapin Food Bank trucks on the road.

“It’s a lifesaver for a lot of us,” Shiner said.

But the need for food never ends.

WINK News Feeds Families’ March to a Million Meals continues in the month of February. We are now more than halfway Thursday to reach our goal of $400,000 to help Harry Chapin Food Bank serve the community.

You can donate by visiting WINKFeedsFamilies.com.

“It was a godsend, and I’m very thankful that they were here,” Iocca said.

Reporter:Andrea Guerrero
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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