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Food banks preparing for hurricane season

Getting ready for hurricane season, and while we’re still in a pandemic, this year’s season could look different when it comes to getting help.

Food banks say they learned a lot from past hurricanes, and that’s to be overprepared.

If the pandemic has taught the Harry Chapin Food Bank anything, it’s to be flexible, take food to where the need is great, and work with partners like St. Matthew’s House to reach even more people.

You can bet if a hurricane comes through Southwest Florida, that will be the plan again.

Beckie Tokarski’s family suffered through hurricanes Charley and Irma.

“We had lost electricity and I had to throw all my food away,” the Port Charlotte resident said.

The Harry Chapin Food Bank was there to help.

“I stood in line. Sometimes I was there an hour to get food.”

Now, Harry Chapin and partner agency St. Matthew’s House are gearing up for the 2021 hurricane season.

“When a storm hits, it’s going to impact people who didn’t need help before,” said Barbara Evans, chief development officer at the Harry Chapin Food Bank.

“We are better prepared today because of what we’ve gone through with COVID,” said Steve Brooder, chief operating officer of St. Matthew’s House.

Food banks say the pandemic hasn’t changed how they prepare for storms but how they get food to people in need.

“Perhaps more drive-thru distributions and maybe that’s not possible because people don’t have gasoline,” Evans said.

“It’s not from one location where we don’t have people come to us. We’re actually taking the food and supplies to many locations,” Brooder said.

Today, Tokarski is still thankful for the help she and her family received in 2004 and 2017.

“It’s just been phenomenal. They get my family fed.”

She gives thanks to the food bank by volunteering.

Click here to visit our Hurricane Central page with all the news and information you need for the upcoming season.

Reporter:Taylor Petras
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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