Harry Chapin partnership helps Punta Gorda food pantry expand

Reporter: Erika Jackson
Published: Updated:

A food pantry in Punta Gorda has seen such significant growth that it needs a bigger location. It quickly started expanding after partnering with the Harry Chapin Food Bank, which gave it access to big-name companies.

There are fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy all to feed families for free. For Lula Ringham, who lives in Punta Gorda, the foods are a welcome sight.

“I can’t afford to buy groceries at the grocery stores,” Ringham said. “They are too high.”

Ringham depends on food pantries, like Blessed to Bless. Over the last 12 months on Thursdays, she has visited the pantry.

“When there is somebody out there to help you,” Ringham said, “you need to go.”

Carmen Aguiles, the director of Blessed to Bless, said the pantry depends on its partnership with its biggest supplier, Harry Chapin. Harry Chapin partners with over 150 agencies across Southwest Florida and has a “food finder” on its website.

“Through them,” Aguiles said, “really, we got in touch with Walmart, Aldi, and Publix.”

“They donate a lot of food,” Ringham said. “A lot of food.”

But Blessed to Bless is outgrowing its current spot at the First Church of the Nazarene, which is off Allen St. One of the additions it needs is a commercial freezer to feed more families to get closer to ending hunger in Southwest Florida.

“They always say it’s amazing,” Aguiles said. “It’s incredible that I can take all of this home.”

“These people are good,” Ringham said.

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