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Meals-by-F.I.S.H. program assists islanders

By Staff | Jun 11, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Fernando Espinoza delivers hot meals to island neighbors.

As uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 health crisis linger, F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva continues to offer its services to those who live, work on or visit the islands. One program, Meals-by-F.I.S.H., has doubled in size as islanders prefer to have prepared meals delivered rather than visit grocery stores or restaurants.

The Meals-by-F.I.S.H. program delivers one hot, nutritious meal per day, up to five days per week, including extras for the weekend. When the COVID-19 crisis first hit, F.I.S.H. altered the program to a “deliver and go” scenario, leaving the meals outside its clients’ doors in coolers, followed up with a phone call to the recipient.

“As an essential service provider, we have maintained this critical food program by making adjustments for everyone’s safety,” Executive Director Alicia Tighe said. “Our delivery volunteers are provided with masks and gloves and maintain the 6-foot social distance guideline while picking up and delivering meals. While some clients miss the socialization part of the program, they do appreciate the safety precautions and that their tasty, nourishing meals continue to be delivered.”

Working in partnership with Bailey’s General Store, Chefs Karl and JT work tirelessly preparing the Meals-by-F.I.S.H. menu, while their staff sorts, bags and labels each meal on a daily basis. Each meal consists of a protein, starch and vegetable and runs on a two-week set menu cycle. Meals may include oven-roasted bone in chicken with rice and vegetable, broiled Atlantic salmon with rice and vegetable, grilled chicken Caesar salad, and more. Based on preferences or allergies, items may be substituted for a sub or salad, and the menu can be slightly modified to accommodate those with diabetes or other health conditions.

The service is provided to anyone who requests meals. Many are older individuals who no longer cook; some are younger singles recovering from an illness or injury. Individuals may receive meals for any length of time and may opt in/out of the program as needed. Meals are picked up at 11:30 a.m., and delivery time varies depending on traffic, season and number of deliveries. Generally, they are delivered approximately one hour after pick up.

All meals are subsidized and F.I.S.H. charges $7 per meal for self-paying individuals, including delivery by F.I.S.H. volunteers. While many pay for the cost of the meal themselves, others cannot afford to do so. On a case-by-case basis, F.I.S.H. may subsidize a larger part or the entire cost of the meal, depending on the household situation.

For more information about the program, contact Maria Espinoza at 239-472-4775.