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Holiday food drive to help local soup kitchen, food bank

By Staff | Nov 17, 2008

The Radiology Regional Center is holding a holiday food drive at six of its Lee County locations to benefit the Community Cooperative Ministries’ soup kitchen and food bank.

The soup kitchen and food bank provide nutritious meals and groceries for the homeless and working poor. According to census data, it is estimated there are 3,000 homeless Lee County residents and 26,200 people are without jobs.

The Lee County School District reported this summer that approximately 130 children are homeless in Cape Coral.

Because of tough economic times, the Radiology Regional Center will act as a collection site for non-perishable food donations until Tuesday.

“No one should go hungry, especially during the holidays,” said Rebekah Cook, the referral relations representative for the Radiology Regional Center. “Each day you read about people in our community losing their jobs and being faced with losing their homes.”

Donations such as canned goods and other dried foods, as well as toiletries and bug spray, can be dropped off at two locations in Cape Coral — the centers at 805 Del Prado Blvd. S. and 1708 Cape Coral Parkway W. The offices are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

“We are in desperate need of non-perishable food items for our pantry,” said Sarah Owen, executive director of the Community Cooperative Ministries. “Every day we are trying to help more and more families in need of food.”

Locally, the organization serves a meal at noon to those who need it at the soup kitchen, providing a dignified way for the chronically homeless to obtain something to eat. The food bank allows local families to receive emergency groceries and bagged lunches for the working poor.

The Lee County Homeless Coalition and others battling homelessness are hoping to significantly decrease the problem within a decade. Lee County recently joined 300 jurisdictions across the country in formulating a 10-year plan against homelessness. Local officials will hold a research initiative until 2009 and use the data to develop the overall plan.

“We are working towards ending homelessness rather than just managing it,” said Owen. “Our hope is that in 10 years the number of homeless in Lee County will be on the decline.”

Homelessness is also a major problem for military veterans. The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that one in every four veterans are homeless and with the return of many veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, the alliance is expecting the number of homeless veterans to increase.