NAPLES, Fla. — A local non profit is expanding their cause thanks to the grand opening of a brand-new warehouse.
St. Matthew’s House celebrated the opening of their new food distribution warehouse Friday with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The new warehouse has not only increased the efficiency of storing food, but also increased freezer capacity for perishables.
"We’re really fortunate to have this facility.”
Inside the warehouse, food security in Collier County is taking a back seat.
“What you see here is about six or seven weeks of supply so it turns very quickly," says Steve Brooder, Chief Executive Officer of St. Matthew’s House. "Most of what you see here today is all donated.”
It’s thanks to a new food warehouse for St. Matthew’s House. A project that dates back pre-2020, now, officially up and running.
"There was no team, there were no trucks, there were no forklifts, there was no warehouse," says Brooder. "This is all new and we built this model running, kind of, at full speed to respond to the food crisis.”
In response to Covid-19 and the food insecurities it caused for a lot of families, St. Matthew’s expanded their food assistance program. Including their mobile food distribution events.
"Back then, we were seeing maybe 300 or 400 families a week come through. Now, that’s 4,000 a week and 20,000 a month.”
A demand that has continued since April 2020. Caused by things like inflation, making everyday food items hard to come by.
But it too is being fought by the 10,000-square-foot warehouse thanks to the arrival of the ‘choice pantry.’ An area for those who can’t make scheduled distributions to come in and pick up pre-packaged meals and other food items.
"This will give some families flexibility to make an appointment, come by and shop in this choice pantry for what they need," Brooder said. "They go to our website, make an appointment and then fit it to their schedule.”
The warehouse also doubles as an emergency warehouse. Helping stage emergency supplies in the event of a hurricane or other weather event.
“The one thing that we could provide is food on the spot, water on the spot and cleaning supplies on the spot," said Lorna McLain, Director of Food Assistance with St. Matthew’s House. "So god forbid that something would happen within the next week- St. Matthew's House, we’ll get a call from the city and we will do our best to be at the locations that are needed.”
Making the non profit all the more flexible in their fight against hunger.
Said Brooder, “I think this will position us to continue to serve whatever the need is, wherever the need is for many years.”