Soup Kitchen feeds SWFL amid COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 7:08 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-23 09:58:04-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Coronavirus fears are not stopping Community Cooperative Soup Kitchen from helping those in need.

The non-profit serves some of Lee County's more vulnerable populations.

"We've stayed true to our hours that we've always done, and all of our programs are still operating," said Tracey Galloway, CEO of Community Cooperative. "We've just adjusted how we're doing it."

One of those programs is Meals on Wheels, which serves hot meals to roughly 350 senior citizens.

"We have 32 routes throughout Lee County, and we have volunteers who deliver every day because they're pretty much the only people those citizens get to see," said Galloway.

This is something Community Cooperative believes is essential, especially during these times of Coronavirus isolation.

"The critical piece of this program is we put eyes on them every day. We want to make sure that they're healthy, that they're safe," said Galloway.

The center's soup kitchen is also operating, but no one is eating inside, all hot meals are to go,

The same goes for the center's community market.

Typically, people would be able to go into the market and select their items, but now as a safety measure, volunteers are pre-packing items, and people are picking them up drive-through style.

Same as with their mobile food pantry.

"Our mobile food pantries are for families and individuals who just need a little extra boost to help keep food in their pantry," said Galloway.

The mobile food pantry visits different communities throughout Lee County each month.

Galloway says they have seen new faces.

"I just spoke to someone this morning who said, "I don't know what to do, I've not been through this, I'm embarrassed." They were a waiter at a restaurant and had just gotten laid off," said Galloway.

Items from the market and food pantry are free for those who need help.

"If you don't know where to turn to, you don't know who to ask; there are two ways: go to our website at, we've got links to a lot of the mobile food pantries and other feeding sites available," said Galloway.

Galloway says It's a slow process getting food right now because of the influx of need, but she assures they do have enough.

"We've got plenty of food; we're going to continue to have food, we're still preparing all of our food fresh," said Galloway.

But she encourages the community to help keep shelves stocked.

"An extra something while you're at the grocery store and drop it off because between our elderly and our children being off from school for so long, an extra box of cereal or an extra loaf of bread is going to go a long way," said Galloway.

Community cooperative assures they are taking all the proper steps to keep volunteers and visitors safe, including limiting the number of volunteers working at a time.