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F.I.S.H. provides year-round weekend food for youths

By Staff | May 27, 2020

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F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva battles food insecurity from all angles through a variety of meal programs, including its food pantry, Meals-by-FISH delivery and the Backpack Program – for the youngest island neighbors.

According to a Feeding America study, over 26,400 children in Lee County are considered food insecure, meaning they do not have access to enough affordable and nutritious food. F.I.S.H.’s Backpack Program is designed to battle childhood hunger by providing weekend food and extra snacks for children throughout the year, including summer and school breaks.

“COVID has put an additional strain on food insecure families that rely on meals provided by their children’s schools – it’s an extra two meals per day, per child they’ve become responsible for,” Executive Director Alicia Tighe said. “The Kiwanis Club of Sanibel and Captiva have been incredible in providing F.I.S.H. with emergency funding for our kids backpack program. Thanks to Kiwanis we are now providing extra food in the backpacks, as well as providing ingredients and recipe cards for a meal that families can cook together that is fresh, healthy and kid-friendly.”

F.I.S.H. is monitoring ongoing policy and economic discussions at the state and local level to proactively modify programs, including food backpacks, to meet the changing needs of vulnerable clients.

“Many of our clients missed out on the end of season where they make the bulk of their annual income,” Tighe said. “Typically these meal programs are intended to be supplemental to household groceries, but we’ve realized that, due to COVID, these programs may be the vast majority of food brought into the home.”

The Backpack Program gives participating students non-perishable nutritious foods that are easy to prepare, and great tasting, on a weekly basis. Parents can pick up the food bags Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. at the F.I.S.H. Walk-In Center, at 2430-B Periwinkle Way, Sanibel.

The program is offered at no cost to participants. All backpacks contain protein, fruits and vegetables, snacks, milk, juice and occasionally a sweet treat. F.I.S.H. also includes organic and vegetarian choices.

For more information, contact Food Program Director Maria Espinoza at 239-472-4775.