Fort Myers food bank struggling amid supply chain backups



FORT MYERS

A supply chain mess is impacting those who need meals the most. Food banks are scrambling to fill the shelves to feed those in need in our community.

The images of lines wrapped around food banks as COVID-19 began to hit communities hard to forget.

Many parents couldn’t feed their kids, and there was fear it may last.

Stephanie Peck said at the time that her biggest worry was, “that this will take longer than expected for the economy to get back on track.”

Peck turned out to be prophetic. 18 months after that interview, the supply chain crisis isn’t just hurting families who need food. It is also hurting the food banks they rely on.

“Our budget doesn’t go as far as it used to,” said Richard Leber, the president and CEO of the Harry Chapin Food Bank. “It’s not just cost, but it’s availability of labor, for transportation and labor, for production, etc. So that’s making it harder for us to find the items we want. And the prices that we’re paying for the items we’re getting have gone up very significantly.”

The Harry Chapin Food Bank relies heavily on financial donations, but it also relies on businesses, restaurants and farms to donate leftover food, and they are donating less now.

“Prices being what they are, you know, there’s a lot of stuff getting snapped up that might otherwise in the years previous had been donated, or it simply isn’t in the store for them to donate it,” said Leber.

The Harry Chapin Food Bank still feeds 50-60% more families than it did before the pandemic, and many of the COVID-19 relief grants from the government have stopped.

Leber said, “I think we’re likely going to see that people are going to be needing help in ways that maybe they never did before.”



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