New anti-hunger task force formed in Charlotte County

To the Editor:

The Harry Chapin Food Bank has formed a new collaboration aimed at fighting hunger in Charlotte County, including some of its partner agencies, other nonprofit organizations, government and law enforcement agencies, and clients.

The group formed about three months ago to ramp up the fight against food insecurity in the county, said Carolyn Jones, partner relations and compliance manager for the Harry Chapin Food Bank.

About 24,050 people are food insecure in Charlotte County, which means they may not know where their next meal is coming from, according to a study called “Map the Meal Gap 2017” by Feeding America. Of that number, about 5,180 are children.

As a result of their efforts, the new Anti-Hunger Task Force of Charlotte County is now ready to open the first food pantry that will serve clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The 24-hour Ebenezer Church Food Pantry will open May 30, at 18305 Wintergarden Ave., Port Charlotte, Jones said.

The three goals of the task force are:

  • To increase awareness of food insecurity in Charlotte County.
  • Expand resources to combat hunger by increasing access to federally-funded programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), etc.
  • Improve access to food through a network of partner agencies.

The task force has also translated SNAP (formerly the federal food stamp program) materials into Spanish and Creole to serve those populations.

The task force includes representatives of the Community Resource Center; Charlotte County Human Services; the Children’s Network; First Presbyterian Church; the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office; the City of Punta Gorda Police Department; Charlotte Harbor Trinity United Methodist Church; First Macedonia Missionary Baptist church; Discipleship Driven Ministries; The Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic, and a client.

The task force still needs some volunteers to staff the pantry, mainly for Sunday and Thursday, Jones said. For more information, email Carolyn Jones at cjones@harrychapinfoodbank.org or call her at (239) 334-7007, ext. 129.

Anti-Hunger Task Force of Charlotte County representatives: Valarie Morton, Community Resource Center; Lt. Eric Burke, Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office; Dr. Faezah Andrews, Charlotte County Human Services; Pamela Malik: Children’s Network; Pastor Prevoit Numa, Ebenezer Food Pantry;

Nancy Sharpless, First Presbyterian Church; Linda Teelon, Charlotte Harbor Trinity United Methodist Church; Melody Washington, First Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church; Mercedes Austin, Discipleship Driven Ministries; Captain Norman Nahra, City of Punta Gorda Police; Linda, Food Pantry Client; Gabrielle Vasquez, Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic.

The Harry Chapin Food Bank, an affiliate of Feeding America, is the leading hunger-relief organization in Southwest Florida. The food bank solicits, collects and stores food for distribution to families and others in need through a network of more than 150 nonprofit agencies in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry counties, providing food to about 28,000 people a week. Visit harrychapinfoodbank.org.

Mary Wozniak
Harry Chapin Food Bank
Fort Myers, Fla.