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Pine Island Food Pantry provides Thanksgiving meals to island families

Elks, Winn-Dixie, others support effort

By Staff | Nov 25, 2020

From left are Diane Gleason; Dan Loughren, Winn-Dixie manager; Judy Hopkins, Elks exalted ruler; Larry Walworth, Kent House; Donna Yorkston; Mark Hendges; Stephen Vadas; Karen Durand, Food Pantry executive director; and Louise Richey. PHOTO PROVIDED

The Pine Island Food Pantry, along with the generous support of the Greater Pine Island Elks, Winn-Dixie and many other donors, provided 96 Thanksgiving meals to families who reside in the Pine Island and Matlacha area this year. Karen Durand, pantry executive director, said, “The Holiday Meal pre sign-ups went well and the needs remain great as many jobs are still difficult to come by and stimulus support has run out. The Food Pantry is very thankful to the Elks for their $3,500 National Foundation grant which was used to purchase all of the Thanksgiving meat and some of the fixings for each family. All turkeys and hams were purchased from Winn-Dixie which means the donation was kept on the island.”

Each Thanksgiving meal included the client’s choice of a turkey, ham or chicken along with all the traditional fixings, such as green beans and corn, broth, cream soup, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, olives, muffins and a dessert. When families picked up their holiday meal, most also picked up everyday groceries.

“Dan, the Winn-Dixie manager, has been a great help by providing the Food Pantry with case quantities of fixings for the holiday bags and storing the meat until needed,” Durand said.

According to Judy Hopkins, Exalted Ruler of the Elks, “Giving is not just about making a donation, it’s about making a difference. This donation through the Pine Island Food Pantry was funded using the  Beacon Grant which the lodge applied for and received from the Elks National Foundation.  Due to the health crisis facing our communities this year, grants that are received by the lodge are slated for use in the relief of pandemic related issues. This will  play a vital role in combatting food insecurity for the residents of Greater Pine Island.  The Elks National Foundation is so important to us as a lodge, and the money that our members donate to the program is given back many times over to us, for us to do our good works in our local community.:”

If you like to know more about how the Greater Pine Island Elks are giving back to community or membership please contact Hopkins at 239-283-4388.

The Food Pantry is also offering Christmas Meals this year and is still accepting pre-sign-ups from current and new clients through Dec. 3. The pantry is open on Mondays and Thursdays from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. in the Life Center of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church, 12175 Stringfellow Road, Bokeelia. Two forms of I.D. are required at each visit (driver’s license, rent receipt, utility bills, etc.) to verify residency location. Masks are required for entrance.

 The Food Pantry, which is a 501c3 nonprofit, serves the Pine Island and the greater Matlacha area and is operated by an all-volunteer staff. Its goal is to ensure “no one goes hungry” on the island. The pantry is supported by donations from local residents, churches, service and civic clubs, businesses and the school on the island, with 100% of all donations going to those in need. We are indebted to all of our partners on the island and our friends at Winn Dixie and Harry Chapin for ensuring food is available for all. Donations are always welcome for both holiday and everyday meals. Visit the pantry website at pineislandfoodpantry.org for more information.