Harry Chapin Food Bank and the Coronavirus

Harry Chapin Food Bank and the Coronavirus 1535 944 Harry Chapin Food Bank

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Last week, Jeff Bezos made a historic $100 million dollar gift to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. Feeding America’s mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of approximately 200 member food banks that serve every county in our nation. Harry Chapin Food Bank is the Feeding America member that serves Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee Counties.

Jeff Bezos’ gift highlights the strategic significance that food banks play in the fight to end hunger. In Southwest Florida, your food bank is the central nonprofit serving 28,000 people a week. Your food bank’s largest program is the Agency Partner Program which is a network of more than 150 partner agencies. Your food bank provides these agencies with more than 70% of their food inventory. Our membership with Feeding America affords your food bank multifaceted food sourcing access from various retail and grocery stores, national food providers and farms. Subsequently, your food bank is uniquely positioned to lead our community in the fight to end hunger.

We are pleased to share that we will receive nearly $500,000 from Jeff Bezos’ $100 million dollar gift. We are incredibly grateful to Jeff and his thoughtful philanthropy. While his gift is generous, it doesn’t cover a month of your food banks’ increased costs to meet the enormous demand for food. We are seeing a 40% increase in those seeking food. Our increased costs are $150,000 a week or $600,000 a month. We calculate that our additional food costs for the next few months is $3.6 million dollars. If you would like to make a gift to support our ability to meet the growing need, please click here.

We have nearly completed our second week of our Coronavirus drive-thru distributions. The car lines continue to grow and yet we have seen how grateful that those who are hungry are as they drive away with trunks full of fresh foods and our shelf-stable food kits. At our drive-thru distributions, we have been able to supplement our shelf-stable food kits with potatoes, tomatoes, watermelons, bags of salad, onions, limes, peppers, Boston Bibb and romaine lettuces. If you need food, please click here to find the closest distribution to you.

Earlier this week, the need to secure masks became a pressing challenge. We are so grateful to those who have responded but we need more masks. We need masks for the safety of the hungry, our staff and volunteers. We will gladly accept homemade masks. If you are able or willing to make masks for our staff and volunteers please email Meg Madzar at mmadzar@harrychapinfoodbank.org.

We still need volunteers to help us sort produce, build food kits and distribute food at our drive-thru distributions. The safety of our volunteers is extremely important to us. We have adjusted our volunteer schedule to stagger and limit the number of volunteers in our facilities. Our volunteers are wearing gloves which we happily provide for them. No one who has been out of the country or is not feeling well is being allowed to volunteer.  We have added one more requirement of those willing to give of their time; to bring your own mask. If you are well, have a mask, are able and willing to volunteer, please click here to sign up.

While our challenges are many, we have plenty to celebrate. We celebrate that so many of you have made generous gifts, including Jeff Bezos. We celebrate that so many of you have given your time to pack food kits or work at a drive-thru distribution or make us masks. We celebrate that together we are achieving our mission to lead our community in the fight to end hunger, especially in this pandemic.