Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida
Looking for Help
Houston, 86, hadn’t been to a food pantry in a long time. But now he needed help for himself and his disabled adult son who lived with him. His social security and the $45 a month he received in food stamps wasn’t able to cover his bills and buy groceries.
That’s when he decided to come to a pantry in Bonita Springs that partners with the Harry Chapin Food Bank. He chose a few food items, loaded them into his 18-year-old car, and left. He was full of gratitude. “If I hadn’t got people helping me, I couldn’t make it,” he said.
Houston is one of thousands of clients the Harry Chapin Food Bank serves annually through its more than 150 partner agencies, 30 monthly mobile pantries, and senior programs like the Care & Share Senior Feeding Campaign.
In the last fiscal year, the Harry Chapin Food Bank distributed 24 million pounds of food throughout Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades, and Hendry counties.
Fight to End Hunger
With the holidays approaching, the food bank faces its most critical time of the year as it pushes forward on its mission, to lead our community in the fight to end hunger.
The three months between November 1st and the end of January, the Harry Chapin Food Bank will receive about 50 percent of the total monetary donations it collects for the fiscal year. These donations not only meet the heightened need of the holidays but provide the means to carry on the food bank’s mission throughout the year.
“We depend on charity at the holidays, the time when families draw together around food and focus on giving,” said Richard LeBer, president and CEO of the Harry Chapin Food Bank. “Every dollar donated can be turned into $8 worth of food.”
Life wasn’t always this way for Houston, who once made a good living as a commercial plumber. First his mother-in-law, and then his wife, became ill and had to go into a nursing home. The bills drained all their retirement savings.
Just recently, Jeff and his 3-year-old daughter went to one of the emergency mobile pantries on Fort Myers Beach, that was set up to specifically help those economically impacted by the water quality crisis. “I work in a restaurant. Our business right now is down,” he said. “This is a tourist place. If there are no tourists, there is no business. Without business, there is no money, and with no money, there is no food.”
Every Penny Counts
The smallest donation from the smallest person can help. At holiday time, the food bank also welcomes the community “angels” who step up to meet the need, like little Joy Youngblood. At age 5, Joy broke into her piggy bank and brought in $8 as a holiday donation. “You give the money away so people can eat because that’s being a nice and kind friend,” she said. In each subsequent year, Joy has returned with more holiday donations to build on the blessings she seeks to give others.
The food bank thanks all the community “angels” who help feed the hungry. We are responsible stewards of the gifts you donate. Charity Navigator, the largest independent charity evaluator, has given Harry Chapin Food Bank its highest four-star rating for nine consecutive years. For more information or to donate, call 239-334-7007 or visit harrychapinfoodbank.org.