FORT MYERS, Fla. — If you’re one of the thousands that lost your job because of the COVID-19 pandemic and you’re wondering how you’re going to put food on the table, there is help. Community Cooperative Ministries is one of the many organizations that is working to feed families in Southwest Florida. One way they’re doing that is through mobile food pantries each week.
“We’re giving out a couple bags of variety of produce, shelf stable pantry items, bread and milk and meat. Really, anything a family would need for over a week worth of food,” explains Stephanie Ink-Edwards with Community Cooperative Ministries.
The non-profit organization has several ways to help families in need. They offer Meals on Wheels, takeout boxes at their local soup kitchen and the mobile food pantries. At the mobile pantry, families line up in their cars at the designated location and volunteers and staff from Community Cooperatives load a weeks worth of food into the back seat or trunk of your car while maintaining their distance. They say anyone is welcome and they are seeing a shift in the people who are asking for help.
“The demand at our mobile pantries has skyrocketed,” Ink-Edwards explains. “I see hospital workers going through, I see school district employees going through, I see folks who normally would probably be donating to me because they were a happy functioning employed family but now they found themselves without work they are having to come get help. So, It’s everybody, we are really seeing everybody,” Ink-Edwards adds.
While they are always happy to have volunteers and donations of food, what Community Cooperative Ministries really needs right now is monetary donations. They have much better buying power than an individual at a store and can stretch donations further than individuals could shopping on their own.
Even with the outpouring of support they’ve seen recently, sadly, they still have to turn people away. Stephanie Ink-Edwards explained from a mobile food pantry she hosted this week while she showed Fox 4 the long line or cars waiting to get bags of food.
“I’ve got big trucks and I can put a lot of food on my trucks but I can only do so much and I’m certain toward the end of this afternoon I will have to turn some folks away because we will just run out.”
Community Cooperative Ministries has an entire section dedicated to the services they are providing during the COVID-19 pandemic on their website. It where you can find the details of their upcoming mobile food pantries and donate to the organization to help families in need.