FORT MYERS, Fla. — After a national effort to help Hurricane Ian survivors in Southwest Florida, expect to see some of those workers and volunteers leaving the region in the coming days and weeks.
Yet the need to lift people up all throughout Southwest Florida will remain for the present and the future.
The Harry Chapin Food Bank reports in October 2022, after Hurricane Ian hit, the food bank distributed more than four million pounds of food during that month. A higher output than even before, when food bank leaders said they were serving more than 250,000 people each month across five counties.
“We expect that volume to go up as the first responders, like the (Army) National Guard and the (American) Red Cross go home,” said Richard LeBer, president and CEO of the Harry Chapin Food Bank. “People are going to come and rely on the local food bank and the 150 organizations that we give food to.”
On Friday night, the Scripps Howard Fund, the charitable arm of FOX4’s parent company, The E.W. Scripps Company, presented a $25,000 check to the Harry Chapin Food Bank to help meet the constant need to fight food insecurity throughout Southwest Florida.
Fridays are busy days for the food bank as it held distributions in the late morning in Cape Coral and Fort Myers. The Cape Coral event, at Ocean Church on NE Kismet Parkway, had a line of cars and trucks ready to receive food for the weekend by 9 a.m., a half-hour before the event was set to start.
“I can’t really say I’m in bad shape because there are people worse than me,” said one woman, who did not give her name, as she picked up food for the weekend. “It helps with the pocketbook and, with electricity going up, it’s very helpful.”
Volunteers with the food bank also lined the route to offer what they could for the two-hour event.
“They’re grateful,” said Vincent Cianciolo, who worked the parking lot on this Friday distribution. “I feel really bad when we are down to just the fruit.”
The Harry Chapin Food Bank reports, in 2021, it gave out more than 48 million pounds of food, a 79 percent increase from its 2020 total.