By Richard LeBer
President and CEO, Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida
A dollar donated to the Harry Chapin Food Bank has always been so much more than a dollar. Each donated dollar helps the food bank rescue food that would otherwise go to waste to feed children, working-poor families and seniors in need.
People like Joann, who picked up a bag of bread and produce recently at a local food pantry. She said her husband had died of cancer just a few days earlier. “I’m here because I’m having a hard time making ends meet,” she said. “I have a cleaning business. I have a few clients. I could use a few more.”
Through the years we have become more efficient at rescuing food, and the value of the food we rescue is increasing. Because of this, every donated dollar creates $8 in food value today -- $2 more in value than in the past few years.
How is this possible? It’s not magic. And no, it isn’t something that you, as a consumer, can do at the grocery store.
We are able to amplify that dollar through a network of resources that we have built to rescue food and get it to where it’s needed:
· Local, regional, statewide and national growers, food manufacturers and distributors, and more than 140 retail partners in Southwest Florida who donate fresh produce, meat and other food to us weekly.
· Residents and business owners who organize and host community food drives.
· A 55,000-square-foot warehouse in Fort Myers and a 5,000-square-foot warehouse in Naples where the food is sorted and repacked by more than 5,450 volunteers who contributed 46,500 hours to the food bank last year.
· A fleet of 15 refrigerated trucks and food bank drivers who pick up and deliver donations to a network of 150-plus partner agencies in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties. These agencies operate food pantries, soup kitchens, children’s food program, senior programs, homeless shelters and other programs.
Last fiscal year, the food bank provided 20.6 million pounds of rescued food—almost an 11 percent increase over the previous fiscal year. In other words, our neighbors in need received the equivalent of 17 million meals. We estimate that this network will provide 21.9 million pounds of food this fiscal year.
We’re work hard to increase our impact, to be good stewards of your money, and to be open and transparent about what we do. Charity Navigator, the largest independent charity evaluator, has given us its highest 4-star rating for seven consecutive years. You can check out our rating at http://bit.ly/HCFB_CN.
When you give to the Harry Chapin Food Bank, you can be confident of how your money will be put to use and of the impact it will have. Each donated dollar is so much more than $1 because $1 can become $8, $10 can become $80 and $100 can become $800. This holiday season, your investment in the Harry Chapin Food Bank can become a meal for a hungry child, medication for a senior deciding whether to pay for healthcare or groceries, and peace of mind for a family when the unexpected happens.