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SWFL Food Bank Preparing For Food Insecurity Uptick During COVID-19 Outbreak

Harry Chapin Food Bank
The line at a Harry Chapin Food distribution location on March 18

As empty shelves become a more familiar sight during the COVID-19 outbreak, and more people are out of work due to social distancing, the Harry Chapin Food Bank is facing some challenges trying to get food to those who need it.

Normally, Harry Chapin provides food for about 28,000 people a week across five Southwest Florida counties primarily through donated items from food retailers. The recent absence of many grocery items has put a strain on that model, said the organization’s Chief Development Officer, Barbara Evans.

“And what that means in turn, is that there is very little product in to our warehouse that’s being rescued and donated to us,” Evans said. “So we are shifting into a purchasing- food model which is not particularly normal for us, it is a more costly way to feed the hungry.”

Evans said the organization is preparing for an uptick of people seeking food relief, and has begun purchasing food items for kits that will be able to feed a family of four for five days. The kits cost Harry Chapin about $30 each to put together.

“We’ve preordered at least two week’s worth of food. And we’ll be continuing to order as funding comes in, subsequent weeks of food,” Evans said.

The kits will be ready for distribution by the end of the month and will be distributed via satellite drive-throughs to avoid spreading COVID-19.

Information on Harry Chapin food distribution locations can be found here

Andrea Perdomo is a reporter for WGCU News. She started her career in public radio as an intern for the Miami-based NPR station, WLRN. Andrea graduated from Florida International University, where she was a contributing writer for the student-run newspaper, The Panther Press, and was also a member of the university's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.
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