The line of people snaked down the sidewalk, past the walls of the school building, past a chain link fence, to the street.
On this muggy evening, at least 200 individuals and families, including many children, stood patiently outside Pinecrest Elementary School in Immokalee. They were waiting for food to be distributed from a mobile pantry set up by the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida. Streets in the surrounding neighborhood were filled with ramshackle trailers.
Beatrice was one of those in line. She works hard, cooking, cleaning and waiting tables at a local restaurant. But she can’t make enough to feed her family. The mobile pantry provides what she can’t. So she was happy to stand in the heat with her two daughters, Valentina, 5; Clorana, 9; and son Isereol, 2.
“It’s good. It’s helping,” she said, while Valentina happily clutched a bag of carrots.
Beatrice is far from alone in needing to supplement the amount of food her wages can put on her family’s table. Nationally, in the wake of the Great Recession, statistics show that one in six Americans struggles with hunger.
In Southwest Florida, the need is still great.
Harry Chapin Food Bank partners with and provides food for more than 150 agencies across Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties. Mobile pantries are also an efficient and effective way to get food to those areas where it is most needed. The mobile pantry program, established in July 2010, is reaching 250-300 households at each site. Households receive $60-plus worth of food.
At Pinecrest Elementary, two food bank trucks set up in the parking lot, loaded with fresh produce, frozen meats, and other food items. They included watermelons, onions, bags of apples, some cereal, bread, rice and beans. Trucks carry an average of 14,000 pounds of food for each distribution.
The food was gone in 90 minutes.
If you would like to help out at a mobile pantry in your area, please contact Tanya Phillips, our volunteer manager at (239) 334-7007 extension 141 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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