March to a Million Meals: Long lines at food distribution site show food insecurity in Lehigh Acres

Published: February 22, 2022 4:42 PM EST
Updated: February 24, 2022 2:37 PM EST

In Lehigh Acres on Tuesday scores of vehicles lined up to receive their food from the Harry Chapin Food Bank.

The distribution site at the old Copperhead Golf Course feeds more than 500 families a week. There are 150,000 people in Southwest Florida who are food insecure.

WINK News is in the home stretch for its goal of donating $1 million meals to Southwest Floridians.

Inline on Tuesday was one woman named Winnie. Her mission? Survival.

“You get to the point that you’re older and if things go wrong all you can do is try to survive basically,” Winnie said.

What went wrong with Winnie starts with her health.

“It’s depressing,” she said.

She is disabled and can’t work or afford to live on her own. She doesn’t own a vehicle. The one she used to pick up her pantry goods belongs to her roommate.

“Everything goes up and up and up and you know your check doesn’t go up,” Winnie said. “At the end of the month, like now, it’s like the little bit of food stamps are gone because you go to the store what can you buy? And then you end up buying food that’s not healthy. You end up buying stuff that’s cheaper so you have something in your stomach to say, well OK, I ate. Maybe it wasn’t the most nutritious but I did eat.”

That’s where the Harry Chapin Food Bank comes in.

“We feed about 550 families a week here and it can go between 10,000 and 15,000 pounds of food,” said Clarence Thompson, mobile pantry driver for the Harry Chapin Food Bank.

In the long line, many people were struggling to stay positive.

But that changes once they make it to the front of the line.

Everyone leaves with food for their families and a smile on their face.

“I’m going to sleep good,” Thompson said. “I helped a lot of families.”

Donate here and join us as we March to a Million Meals.