FAQ

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  • About 151,000 people struggle with hunger in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties. Of that number, 46,470 are children. That means that 11.8 percent of a total 1.28 million population in those five counties are in need. The rate of child food insecurity for the five counties is 20.4 percent.

    The numbers come from the Map the Meal Gap 2019 report by Feeding America, the nation’s largest network of 200 food banks, including the Harry Chapin Food Bank. The full report can be found at map.feedingamerica.org.

  • The United States Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as limited or uncertain access to enough food for all members of a household to live an active, healthy life. We simply like to say that when someone is food insecure, they may not know where their next meal is coming from.

  • We serve about 28,000 people per week. We do this through a network of more than 150 agencies throughout Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties. We also have a mobile pantry program, called Fulfill, that provides about 30 mobile pantries per month throughout the community.

  • They are families, children, seniors, veterans, single parents, the homeless and others. Our clients may have just lost a job or be underemployed. Some are unable to make ends meet, in the face of life emergencies. They may have had an accident. They may be battling illness, struggling to live on a fixed income, dealing with the death of a loved one, or divorce.

  • A food bank solicits, collects and stores large amounts of food, and then distributes it. Think of it as a bank with constant deposits and withdrawals. The food is distributed to more than 150 partner agencies. Some of the agencies we partner with may be food pantries, church soup kitchens and many other community organizations. We provide them with food, which they in turn distribute to people in need.

  • No. We encourage those seeking food to visit our website and click on the Food Locator to find a partner agency or mobile pantry in their area. You can also call us at 239-334-7007 or dial 211, the United Way 211 information hotline, to find the nearest site.

  • We receive food donations through growers, producers, distributors, retailers, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Feeding America network, and of course, local food drives held by individuals, organizations, communities and businesses..  We also receive food from our Retail Rescue Program, which includes 140 area retailers. Major food donors include Publix Super Markets, Walmart and Sam’s Club.

  • About 80,000 pounds of food per day pass through our warehouse on its way to our partner agencies and our mobile pantry program. Food arrives at the food bank in caseloads or pallets on tractor-trailers, large refrigerated trucks, and in private vehicles carrying the fruits of local food drives.

    The food is inspected, sorted, labeled, and stored at our warehouse for repacking and distribution in sizes suitable for community food programs.

    A comprehensive shopping or product list is maintained and made available daily via the food bank’s internal website, and each partner agency then creates its own food order by computer. The food bank’s staff and volunteers create and pack each individual order, usually weighing anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 pounds.

    Representatives of some local partner agencies pick up their orders, while the food bank delivers orders to others. Every day, the food bank’s 19 trucks are acquiring food throughout Southwest Florida and/or delivering orders to our partner agencies. Our trucks travel more than 250,000 miles per year in our five-county region, which is more than ten trips around the earth (distance around the earth: 24,901 miles!)

  • We are excellent stewards of the donations we receive, with 96 cents of every dollar donated directed to programs and services. For 10 consecutive years, Charity Navigator has given the food bank 4 stars – the national watchdog group’s highest rating –for cost-effectiveness and efficiency. We are able to leverage every dollar we receive into $8 worth of food value.

  • Our vision is that no one has to go hungry in our community. The 24 million pounds of food we distributed in the last fiscal year helps, but our calculations show that to fully meet the growing need, we will need to distribute 48.6 million pounds of food by 2032. With the community’s help, we know we can get there.

  • One in eight people are food insecure in Southwest Florida, including one in five children. That’s according to Map the Meal Gap 2019, an annual study on food insecurity by Feeding America. There are so many hungry people because the population is constantly growing and our area’s economy is dependent on the tourism industry, which typically offers low-paying jobs. Many residents cannot make ends meet and live paycheck to paycheck. Emergency food programs are seeing more and more families who have never previously had to ask for charitable assistance.  Many who donated food and funds in the past are being forced to ask for aid.

  • The food bank is inspected by Feeding America, the nation’s largest food bank network, and is a member of Feeding Florida, the state association of food banks. We are also accredited by the American Institute of Baking (AIB), the gold standard for food safety. We routinely provide educational and regulatory programs for our partner agencies, and partner with other state and local organizations to raise awareness of hunger needs and poverty.

  • In addition to food and grocery products, we provide training in safe food handling, inspection, inventory control, and sanitation. We also furnish nutrition information through our website and newsletters.

  • Companies, churches, service groups, communities and individuals hold food donation and funding drives throughout the year to donate food to the food bank. We have a registration form and a food drive information packet with suggestions and guidelines. We will gladly work with anyone who wants to conduct a local drive to support food for the hungry.

  • The food bank is named for the late singer-songwriter Harry Chapin, who gave the proceeds from every other concert he performed to the cause of fighting hunger.