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Farm to F.I.S.H. program, vendors support food panty

By F.I.S.H. - | Nov 30, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Fresh produce courtesy of the Sanibel Island Farmers Market.

The Sanibel Island Farmers Market and the fruits, vegetables, breads and cheeses are greatly appreciated by the community. The Farm to F.I.S.H. program, a partnership between the island market and Aurora’s Produce, supplies fresh produce for the F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva Food Panty.

Market shoppers can donate to the cause with the hopes of reaching a weekly goal of $200. In return, Aurora’s Produce then sells cases of fresh produce to the F.I.S.H. pantry at market cost.

“This is such a welcome gift to those who use our pantry as a supplemental grocery service,” F.I.S.H. Director of Food Programs Maria Espinoza said. “Reduced work hours along with grocery store shortages due to COVID make it difficult to purchase certain items. Thanks to the farmers market, we can help bridge the gap.”

Betsy Ventura and Jean Baer, owners of Local Roots — which operates eight markets throughout Lee County — organize the market throughout season and suggest vendors pack boxes of unsold fruits, vegetables and goodies for the food pantry. Other farm stands continue to donate produce, baked goods and other items to the pantry as they have done for years, including the European Bakery, Straight From NY York Bagels and Gallego’s Farm. F.I.S.H. volunteers pick up, sort and stock the food pantry on weekend off-hours, following strict COVID-19 safety precautions.

“F.I.S.H. and our neighbors greatly appreciate the generosity of the farmers market, suppliers and volunteers who help make this program possible,” Espinoza said. “We cannot thank Betsy, Jean, the generous vendors and our volunteers enough for helping supply healthy choices for our pantry shoppers.”

PHOTO PROVIDED Straight From NY Bagels donates to F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva.

“The continued support of the farmers market and their eagerness to help is an integral part of our program’s success,” she added.

The food pantry is a vital service for many households. Once qualified by F.I.S.H., households receive a card to shop for items to supplement their grocery needs. The pantry is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. During the pandemic, users may request certain items outside the pantry and F.I.S.H. staff will shop and bag on their behalf.

For more information, visit fishofsancap.org or contact F.I.S.H. at 239-472-4775.