Food bank says serving SWFL children is serving whole families

Almost a year since the first person in Florida tested positive for the coronavirus, many families are faced with food insecurity.

Hundreds of families lined up at Harry Chapin Food Bank’s mobile food pantry event at Fleamasters Flea Market in Fort Myers Monday to receive food boxes, many with school-aged children.

According to Harry Chapin Food Bank, 1 in 5 children in the region experiences.

We learned about how Harry Chapin Food Bank is getting food to children in Southwest Florida neighborhoods.

“I’m a senior citizen, and I’m living on a fixed income, and this really helps me out a whole lot,” Deretha Miller said.

The food bank gives people such as Miller hope. With a box of food from the mobile pantry, Miller won’t worry about feeding her grandchildren.

“I know that I can help my grandkids when they can come over,” Miller said. “At least I know I got some food for them, you know? Food that they enjoy eating, food that I can prepare for them.”

More than 46,000 children in Southwest Florida experience food insecurity.

Monica Correa, the food bank’s programs outreach manager, told us their staff has seen a 125% increase in demand with their in-school pantries and “Harry’s Helping” program in the last year.

“When a child goes hungry, the parents are hungry, and the whole family is hungry,” Correa said. “That’s what we think of. When we are serving the children, we are serving the whole family.”

The pandemic continues to impact families. Some are visiting the mobile pantry for the first time. Others are regulars.

Food bank volunteers helped feed 374 families in two hours at the flea market to begin the week.

“You know, with my hours cut, I can put that money toward bills,” Andrew Crumbly said.

A little help goes a long way.

“It’s just a blessing that you have people that are giving to help other people that are really in need,” Miller said.

MORE: Harry Chapin Food Bank – Feeding Children


WINK Feeds Families March to a Million Meals continues to raise money through community donations to support the families in Southwest Florida faced with food insecurity. With two weeks left to reach our goal of $400,000, we are roughly two-thirds of the way there. Every penny counts, and you can visit WINKFeedsFamilies.com to contribute to the cause.

Reporter:Taylor Petras
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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