The Harry Chapin Food Bank eliminates fees, investing in its partner agencies

The Harry Chapin Food Bank eliminates fees, investing in its partner agencies 150 150 Harry Chapin Food Bank

The Harry Chapin Food Bank is announcing a move that will help its partner agencies save money and enhance their services.

As of July 1, the start of the food bank’s new fiscal year, the Harry Chapin Food Bank has eliminated shared maintenance fees for its more than 150 partner agencies. The fees, about 1.5 cents to 2 cents per pound of food distributed, were collected to help offset the costs of gathering and distributing food.

The fees added up to about $300,000 per year, said Richard LeBer, food bank president and CEO. Eliminating the fees means that the food bank’s partner agencies can keep that money and use it to build their capacity to serve their communities.

The fees were a remnant of the food bank’s early years as a loosely-organized co-operative of local hunger organizations. Now, the food bank is the largest hunger-relief network in the five-county Southwest Florida area it serves.

“We are excited to make this investment in Southwest Florida’s hunger relief network,” LeBer said. “We believe it’s an important step, and will enable our partners to provide more food to more of our neighbors in need. We look forward to the day when no one in our community has to go hungry.”

Eliminating the fees is simpler and more equitable, he said.  Sometimes shared fees can be a burden, particularly for small agencies. It also means they can focus more on their programs, not fundraising.

The fees were originally suspended after Hurricane Irma to help the food bank’s partner agencies recover. Now they are eliminated permanently. “We don’t want money to limit our partners’ ability to serve people,” LeBer said. “This will help.”