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Initiative aims to feed ‘new hungry’

By Staff | May 20, 2009

Some of Lee County’s school children eat only five days a week. Saturday and Sunday they often go hungry, forced to look ahead to the coming school week for a regular source of nutrition.
They are the “new hungry,” and according to Community Cooperative Ministries, 62 percent of all Lee County school children are on a reduced or free lunch program, indicating the problem might be more widespread than thought.
CCMI, along with the Cape Coral Community Foundation, is trying to change that. CCCF is pledging $5,000 to help CCMI initiate a food backpack program for needy children at Hector A. Cafferata Jr. Elementary School in the Cape.
“We’re partnering with the school system who is helping us to identify the areas of need,” said Sarah Owen, CCMI’s chief operating officer. “We’re trying to respond to the school’s request for help.”
The $5,000 grant is the first of many efforts to come from the CCCF to help feed the hungry of Cape Coral.
As part of its “Feed the Cape 2009 Summer Initiative,” the CCCF has opened a fund specifically to help raise money for the effort. The fund will give the community the opportunity to donate directly to the cause.
“We want to make sure not one single Cape Coral child goes hungry this summer,” said Beth Sanger, CCCF director. “If we work together, as a community, we can make sure kids have food.”
Sanger said the backpacks have enough food to feed the student and their siblings for the weekend. She hopes the program will inspire other schools once the word spreads.
CCMI recently held a similar backpack effort at Orange River Elementary School in Fort Myers.
Like Orange River, teachers and administrators from Hector A. Cafferata worked with CCMI to develop the backpack program.
As part of the long-term effort, Owen hopes the food is merely a piece of a much larger puzzle.
“We want to hear from families, teachers and parents,” she said. “We’re asking, ‘Who can really benefit from a program like this?’ Hopefully, the food is the gateway for providing long-term solutions.”
For more information or to donate to the CCCF’s Feed the Cape Summer Initiative, call 542-5594.
To learn more about Community Cooperative Ministries’ efforts, visit its Web site at: ccmileecounty.com.