Summer can be a time of heightened lack in Southwest Floridians, including for local residents served by the Our Daily Bread Food Pantry.
The already significant need becomes even more acute with the tourist season’s end, which leaves many people with seasonal service industry jobs out of work or working reduced hours. Compounding matters is the school year’s end, which means low-income students no longer receiving the two or three free meals they receive during the school day.
“It’s kind of a double whammy affect,” said Jo Anne Lundquist, Our Daily Bread’s director of food procurement and facilities. “They’re (low-income parents) not making as much money and the kids are at home.”
Our Daily Bread has been offered a $10,000 matching grant recently to help it fulfill its mission of reducing hunger and to meet growing demand. The nonprofit is urging the community to help it take full advantage of the opportunity by making the necessary donations. “This is the perfect opportunity for you to double the impact of your donation,” said Liz Pecora, the charity’s director of communications and donor relations.
Thanks to its more than 400 volunteers, and financial and other support from community residents and businesses, the charity served almost 30,000 people in 2018. Some live on Marco or in Goodland or the Isles of Capri, but the majority are East Naples residents who may work on the island or in Goodland.
Many of the recipients visit the weekly food pantry held in the Family Church of Marco Island’s annex building, located off Winterberry Drive. Others are served by Our Daily Bread’s mobile food pantry, which makes weekly stops at:
The parking lot of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, located off N. Collier Boulevard
6L Farm and the Sunrise Labor Camp, both located off U.S. 41
Manatee and Parkside elementary schools
Manatee Middle School
Food is received from such sources as the Midwest Foodbank, Walmart, Collier Harvest and the United States Department of Agriculture. Marco’s three grocery stores provide items through the Retail Rescue program.
“It’s food that the grocery story wants to move off its shelves and donate that otherwise would end up in a landfill,” said Pecora. “The grocery stores freeze it and then send it on to us to share with our guests. That’s been a huge blessing for us.”
Our Daily Bread also has partnerships with the nonprofits Baby Basics of Collier County, the Harry Chapin Food Bank’s Care and Share program for low-income seniors and the Al’s Pals mobile food pantry that is a cooperative venture with Marco resident Allyson Richards and the YMCA of South Collier- Marco YMCA.
The assistance the organization provides is greatly appreciated by recipients, said Eduardo Martinez of East Naples.
“We’re a poor family and God uses these good people to help poor people and families,” he said during a recent visit to the food pantry. “I appreciate everything God does for us through these people.”
The organization’s future goals include replacing the individual commercial freezers it now uses with a walk-in freezer, which would be allow for storing more frozen meats and increase energy efficiency.
“Also on our dream list is a refrigerated vehicle to serve as our mobile pantry,” said Pecora.
Donations to Our Daily Bread are tax deductible and they provide significant bang for the buck.
“For every one dollar donated, it allows the organization to purchase $8.30 worth of food,” explained Pecora. “Where else can you get that kind of investment, an over 800-percent investment?”
For more information, or to donate or volunteer call 239-259-5188. Donations can be made by mailing a check made out to nonprofit to Our Daily Bread Food Pantry, 1450 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island, FL 34145.