Friday, January 15, 2021
“Why should there be hunger and privation in any land, in any city, at any table when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life?” This important question was posed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1964.
For the past 37 years, Harry Chapin Food Bank has led our community in the fight to end hunger. Dr. King’s question coincides with our vision: that no one has to go hungry in our community.
According to the Food and Agriculture of the United Nations, the world produces more than one- and one-half times enough food to feed everyone on the planet. The issue isn’t that there isn’t food, the issue is that, across the globe, 30% to 40% of all food is wasted. The world’s food distribution system is also inefficient.
Our multifaceted approach to feeding those who are hungry is leveraged by our membership with Feeding America and includes rescuing food that would otherwise go to waste from various retail and grocery stores, national food providers, and farms. As an extension of our food rescue strategy, we rescue produce from local farms that are not part of our Feeding America relationship.
Our supply chain remains unpredictable, and we continue to juggle delayed shipments of food. Our retail rescue continues to fluctuate week by week and we do not know when those levels will return to what they were before the pandemic. As a result, our food sourcing team continues to place an emphasis on food purchasing.
Historically, the food bank spends an average of $37,500 per month on food. We are currently spending $1 million per month on food. Given that purchasing food is not a significant strategy in our normal food distribution and operational budget, continuing challenges are having to add increasing costs to our already lean operating budget as well as and finding and sustaining funding to meet the escalating demands.
Volunteers are an essential component of our sound financial management. This week alone, 378 volunteers provided us 1,266 hours of their time. These volunteers help pack and sort produce, build and distribute food kits, and work on a range of administrative projects. They are change makers and we are incredibly grateful for their partnership.
As we reflect this weekend on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we give thanks that our food distribution programs provided 872,423 pounds of food into our five-county footprint. We celebrate that 727,019 meals did not go to waste this week. We are proud that the food bank continues to be a conduit for our community to unite and provide a safety net for our community.
Together, we are making a difference to the more than a quarter of a million people in Southwest Florida that we are serving each month. Together, we are doing everything in our power to ensure that no one has to go hungry.
To support our efforts, please click here.
If you are looking for food, please click here.
If you are well, able, and willing to volunteer, please click here to sign up.