With the school year back in full swing, local food banks, including Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida, are preparing now for the needs of hungry children.
For many kids the lunch they get at school is the only hot meal they get during the day, and with them not knowing when they will get their next meal, all Winn-Dixie stores launched a Summer Hunger Relief Backpack Program in all of their stores to combat childhood hunger.
And again, the program was a tremendous success, especially for those 13 stores throughout Southwest Florida that contributed to the Harry Chapin Food Bank, not to mention the 16 other food banks throughout the Southeast that benefitted from the campaign.
"Winn-Dixie recognizes the important role that we and our loyal customers play in making better, stronger communities," said Melissa Adams, Winn-Dixie's manager of charitable giving in a statement. "Every child deserves a nutritious meal and a healthy start to life. The Summer Hunger Relief Backpack Program provides a critical way for our communities to tackle this issue."
This year's numbers aren't expected to be in for a few weeks, but last February, during its first food drive, Winn-Dixie was able to donate more than 19,000 pounds of food.
Winn-Dixie encouraged customers to donate at any store register through Aug. 13 to help provide meals for kids to help them thrive in the classroom.
Donations at local Winn-Dixie locations went to Chapin to help fill backpacks with nutritious foods to ensure that children have healthy foundations for school.
"We really appreciate Winn-Dixie and its customers willing to help us. Things get depleted in the summer, that's why it's good to get that extra boost," said Joyce Jacobs, associate director at Harry Chapin Food Bank.
Only the Pine Island store didn't contribute to Chapin, sending them instead to its own food bank.
The Harry Chapin Food Bank solicits, collects and stores food for distribution to families in need through a network of nonprofit agencies in Lee, Collier, Hendry, Charlotte and Glades counties that provide food to more than 30,000 people monthly.
More than 1 million pounds of food are distributed by the Harry Chapin Food Bank monthly.
For every dollar, the food bank can distribute $6 worth of food and groceries.
In the past year, the Harry Chapin Food Bank distributed more than 15.1 million pounds of food and other items valued at more than $25 million, or roughly the equivalent of 12.5 million meals to people in need.
For additional information about the Harry Chapin Food Bank, contact 334-7007.
Winn Dixie has 686 stores in eight southeastern states.