Humanizing Food Insecurity: How a SWFL Food Bank is Making Waves 

Humanizing Food Insecurity: How a SWFL Food Bank is Making Waves 

The Holiday season brings thoughts of gratitude and giving. What better way to act on those feelings than to contribute to a prominent community charity? Harry Chapin Food Bank (HCFB) is just that, feeding “a quarter of a million people each month” within the Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Henry and Lee counties. Founded in 1983, they are the largest hunger-relief nonprofit and the only Feeding America member in Southwest Florida. 

What Harry Chapin Food Bank does: 

The organization works through multiple distribution programs to bring food to those who are hungry, focusing in particular on children, families, and seniors. Some of these distribution programs include the In-School Pantry Program, Fulfill Mobile Pantry Program, and Care and Share Senior Feeding Program.  

Not only does the HCFB provide for those in need, but it works to cultivate a culture that emphasizes humanizing, communication, fun, and belief in what they aptly call the “HCFB Culture”. They aim to “inform, educate, raise funds and advocate” about the issue as well as provide an avenue for community members to combat local food insecurity. 

The organization works to put a human face to the issue, connecting the community to those in need in order to humanize food insecurity and create a broader network of communication. They accomplish this through various programs, including their Partner Agency Program, which works directly with community organizations to bring food in HCFB’s refrigerated trucks as inventory for food distribution events which in turn connects local volunteers to those in need as well as resources for combating food insecurity. 

This holiday season, they have created the holiday meal kit program in response to an increased interest in donating frozen turkeys to food banks. Since frozen turkeys most often cannot be distributed because of the food safety requirements called “The Chain of Cold Custody”, Harry Chapin Food Bank has come up with an alternative. The Harry’s Holiday Meal Kits allow families of four to enjoy all the traditional holiday meal items – including ham, potatoes and gravy, corn, and pumpkin for pie – in a pre-curated kit. By mediating this need, HCFB is able to make donors’ contributions meaningful – rather than being thrown out – while also providing families in need with a warm, full meal that also allows them to feel included in the holiday spirit. 

How can you help HCFB? 

Food insecurity is a very real challenge for many, from young to old, but can be alleviated through community members’ generous contributions of time, money, and food items. Thus, if you are interested in contributing to Harry Chapin Food Bank’s mission, they have multiple avenues to do so.  

Hosting a food and fun drive not only creates an opportunity to work together toward a common worthy goal it can inform, encourage an understanding about hunger issues in our community. 

Volunteering to sort and pack donations of food at their Fort Myers and Naples distribution centers and distribute food at mobile pantries, is always welcome. And if your time is tied up, contributing a monetary gift can also go a long way. According to the food bank, “Every $10 you donate provides food … for up to 20 meals.”   

Harry Chapin Food Bank does a lot for the community of southwest Florida – and you too can do a lot for them and the children, families, and seniors they support, whether through financial, time, or food contributions.