In each of the last two fiscal years, the Harry Chapin Food Bank distributed more than 18 million pounds of food throughout Southwest Florida to our neighbors in need. How much is 18 million pounds of food and what does it take to get it to those who need it? I find that the most effective way to visualize 18 million pounds of food is through an easily understood analogy.
Consider that the average fully loaded semi-truck (53 feet in length) delivering food to the Food Bank consists of 20 to 22 pallets of food. Each fully loaded pallet has an average maximum weight of 2,000 pounds. Therefore, the average weight of a fully loaded 53-foot semi-truck is between 40,000 and 42,000 pounds! With this in mind, if the Food Bank were to take the total number of semi-trucks necessary to deliver 18 million pounds of food, and then place them bumper to bumper, you’d see 429 semi-trucks in a line that stretches 4.3 miles long! That’s one big convoy! Now just imagine if each truck unloads the pallets of food at the same time and places them end to end. You’d have a line of pallets – stacked with food – that would extend to an astounding 6.5 miles long!
This is how much food that flows in and out of the Harry Chapin Food Bank every year. It’s an effort that wouldn’t be possible were it not for the support of so many generous people and organizations throughout Southwest Florida. It takes those willing to provide funding for the logistical support necessary to secure and distribute the food. It takes thousands of volunteers willing to donate their time on behalf others. It takes more than 150 non-profit partner agencies in Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Hendry and Glades counties to distribute the food directly to clients, and of course, it takes the determination and willingness to make sure no child in our community goes to bed hungry because his or her family can’t afford food.
Just as important as the quantity of food the Food Bank distributes is the quality. Thanks to local farmers, packing houses, retail store partners, the Florida Association of Food Banks and our national affiliate, Feeding America, more than 64% of the food we distribute each year consists of fresh produce, frozen meats, dairy, deli, and grain products. This nutritious food is important for our clients’ overall health – especially for children and seniors. Yet, during tough economic times, many families are forced to trim the grocery budget, and perishable foods – like fresh produce – are far too often the first casualties. Therefore, it’s a priority of the Food Bank to work hard every day to secure as much nutritious food as possible for our neighbors in need.
In spite of our best efforts, hunger still remains an issue in our community. The goal of the Food Bank is to end hunger in our community and to provide food to people in need with dignity and respect. Although we aren’t yet able to secure and distribute enough food to end hunger, we’re well on our way. With continued support from the community, we know it’s only a matter of time. Together, we are truly fighting hunger and feeding hope!
via Chris Robinson
Harry Chapin Food Bank Food Resourcing Manager
(239) 334-7007 ext. 137