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Harry Chapin Food Bank launches new mobile pantry on Pine Island

September 26, 2018
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Friday morning, the Harry Chapin Food Bank's new emergency mobile pantry arrived at the Pine Island United Methodist Church at 5701 Pine Island Road. The truck was there from 10 a.m. to noon.

"We are here today with our mobile pantry to help people who are struggling right now because of red tide and the affect on the economy," said Richard LeBer, president and CEO of Harry Chapin Food Pantry.

Red tide in salt water and green algae in fresh water have hurt businesses, particularly in the tourism and hospitality industries, and made it difficult for their employees and other residents to make ends meet and feed their families.

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Louise Bain, program outreach manager; Jose Soto Cruz, mobile pantry coordinator; Vel Graham, volunteer; Richard LeBer, president; Tricia Moore, volunteer; Doreen Sasso, volunteer; and Roger Windey, volunteer.


The Harry Chapin food pantry has been a presence in Fort Myers Beach for the last five weeks from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays.

"We've had over 160 families per week come to the food pantry on Fort Myers Beach," LeBer said. "That's probably 500 individuals and 21,000 pounds of food. We're waiting to see how today goes. We've had tremendous support from several churches and the Pine Island Chamber and friends."

The pantry may continue on subsequent Fridays, depending on the response to the first one and whether the location can be finalized for further distributions.

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Each mobile pantry can serve up to 250 households per distribution. Clients receive 35 to 40 pounds of a variety of food, which may include fresh produce, meat and bread, along with a variety of canned and dry goods such as peanut butter, beans, rice, juice, cereal and fruit.

Residents can also get help at one of the 23 mobile pantries the food bank holds monthly or one of the more than 150 partner agencies the food bank provides food to across Southwest Florida.

Last Friday the Harry Chapin mobile pantry served 78 households (201 individuals) with 2,359 pounds of food.

For a calendar listing of mobile pantries, please visit the Harry Chapin Food Bank website at

For a listing of partner agencies and their locations, please visit

For every dollar donated, the food bank can provide $8 in food value. In fiscal year 2017-18, the Harry Chapin Food Bank distributed 24 million pounds of food and other grocery items, including 6.4 million pounds of fresh produce. The food, valued at $41.5 million, is the equivalent of 20 million meals for people in need.

Mark your calendars: the Harry Chapin Mobile Food Pantry truck will once again be at the Pine Island United Methodist Church on Friday, Sept. 28, from 10-11:30 a.m.

The food bank is also a United Way partner agency. For more information or to make a donation, call 239-334-7007 or visit



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