Drop off unused food to the Soup Kitchen
As Southwest Florida’s seasonal residents prepare to head back north, local soup kitchens and food pantries are pleading they do not throw away even a can of unused food.
“With an unemployment rate of 12 percent and foreclosure rates the highest in the nation, we are seeing an increased need to feed the new hungry everyday,” said Sarah Owen, CEO of Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc. which runs the Soup Kitchen in Fort Myers.
According to Owen, the new hungry are folks who have never had to ask for help before. They are former business owners, schoolteachers, volunteers and former donors to the organizations that they are now going to for help.
Owen is sending out a plea to Southwest Florida’s visitors and winter residents not to forget about the Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry as they prepare to leave.
“Please don’t throw away your unused food as you head home,” she said. “We have over 75,000 seasonal residents. If each one of those individuals dropped off a can of food to the Soup Kitchen, we would not be faced with turning people away hungry.”
In 2008, CCMI prepared and delivered 136,243 meals through their on-site Soup Kitchen and Meals on Wheels program. Total food consumption for 2008 was 133,048 pounds of food, 45 percent of which was given out as emergency food from the Soup Kitchen Pantry to those in need.
Non-perishable food donations can be made daily to the Soup Kitchen located at 3429 MLK, from 8 am to 4 pm. A “wish list” of items requested include cornbread mix, cereal, peanut butter, packaged cookies and snacks, jelly, flavored rice bags and pasta, spaghetti and sauce, macaroni and cheese, handheld can openers, ramen noodles, Ziploc sandwich bags, Vienna sausages, Spam, canned meats, pop-top cans of vegetables, chili, meats and fruit, as well as non-food items including diapers, bug spray, sub block and travel size toiletries.
Iona Hope’s Thrift store located at 15660 San Carlos Blvd., Unit 29A in the Gulf Pointe Shopping Center in South Fort Myers has also come forward as a drop off point for seasonal residents who want to donate food prior to leaving. Store hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Saturday.
For more information, contact CCMI at (239) 332-7687.