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Over 67,000 pounds of food collected for Harry Chapin center

By Staff | Sep 19, 2011

Lee County residents donated thousands of pounds of food over the weekend during “Fill Our Fleet – Feed Our Hungry,” an event organized by the Harry Chapin Food Bank, Publix Supermarkets and LeeTran aimed at feeding the needy.

A total of 67,672 pounds of food was collected Sunday from 33 Publix stores across the county in the “stuff the bus” event, according to Joyce Jacobs, associate director for Harry Chapin food Bank. LeeTran had a bus at each location to pack the food and bring it back to Harry Chapin’s warehouse in Fort Myers.

That figure was a little less than last year’s food drive, when nearly 73,000 pounds of food was collected. They were hoping to collect 100,000 pounds this year.

But when the Harry Chapin Food Bank is distributing 1 million pounds of food each month, every bit helps.

“In this economy, it’s still a huge success,” Jacobs said. “Middle income families are now on the other side and they’re having to see assistance … everyone is need everywhere.”

Harry Chapin distributes to 186 agencies across the five county region, including the Cape Coral Caring Center.

The community and the region are still reeling from the economic downturn, Jacobs said, despite recent upticks in unemployment rates both locally and statewide.

“Our cupboards are pretty bare … the food drive is a huge help getting food to the pantries,” Jacobs added.

The “Stuff the Bus” campaign is one of three big food drives conducted by Harry Chapin Food Bank; the others are the Letter Carrier food drive in May, which collected 400,000 pounds of food. And the holiday food drive, which collected 500,000 pounds of food last year.

As Harry Chapin often buys food in bulk, say a truck load of cream corn, the “Stuff the Bus” campaign gives the center the opportunity to collect other food items it doesn’t normally have cost efficient access to.

“It’s our biggest and only source of getting certain kinds of food items, like canned protein type items,” Jacobs added.

The “Stuff the Bus” campaign also took cash donations. Jacobs said Monday that $3,615 had been colleted which, she said, will equate to about $21,000 worth of food

Harry Chapin Food Bank can turn every dollar spent into $6 worth of food.