More food distributed during pandemic than hurricane relief

Posted at 6:56 PM, Apr 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-24 18:59:36-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — The Harry Chapin Food Bank said they’re passing out at least 20 percent more food now than they would after a hurricane.

About 5,000 people are coming out to Harry Chapin food distribution centers every week.

CEO Richard LeBer said thanks to food and cash donations they’re able to feed families at their 12 Southwest Florida sites.

“It’s heartbreaking to see how many people need help, but it’s heartwarming to see the community come together and help all our neighbors,” he said.

Lee County Schools said they’re giving out double the food they normally would for their summer program. Lauren Couchois with the district is also seeing a growing number of people coming to their Grab-and-Go sites.

“We are steadily doing over 25,000 meals everyday,” she said.

The district opens shelters after hurricanes and feeds families in need but it’s not on this large scale since families usually get help for a shorter period of time.

“That’s even less than what we’re doing right now. So, COVID closure, we’re seeing an increase in the amount of people that participate in our meals programs,” she said.

She added since Grab-and-Go meals started a month ago they’ve passed out nearly half a million meals, and are ready to do so through the summer. Leber said Harry Chapin will prepare to do the same.

“We’re working hard everyday to make sure that we have enough food and distribution capacity to serve everybody who’s hungry,” he said.

LeBer added if you can, make monetary donations instead of going out and buying food to donate to them. The food bank wants to continue feeding Southwest Florida, but don’t want you to clear grocery store shelves to do it.