SWFL family faces added obstacles without car to get to food pantries

Reporter: Morgan Rynor Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Gwendolyn and James Caulfield. Credit: WINK News.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many families don’t know where their next meal is coming from, as they are faced with food insecurity. Statewide, people out of work line up for food donations. Cars can be seen stretching for miles in some parts of Florida with community members waiting for food.

Although these food drives are extremely beneficial to those who need it, some people do not have the transportation to go to these food banks. We spoke to a Southwest Florida family who is asking for help.

There are people in our region who hear about or see people in these lines waiting for food and say, “They’re lucky.”

A St. Matthew’s House food drive will help at least 600 families Thursday. But there are families in local neighborhoods who can’t get to food banks because they don’t have a car. And they need help too.

Gwendolyn Caulfield lives in a crowded house during self-quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Maybe 7 or 8 other people live here,” Caulfield said.

And she’s grateful to have a roof over her head.

“We have access to clean water, but just a bathroom,” Caulfield said. “There is no kitchen, no laundry room.”

Her husband James works at a McDonald’s.

“It gets to be a point where even if it gets slow for maybe a good half an hour, 45 minutes, they’ll start sending people home,” Caulfield said.

They’re not sure how they’re going to pay rent the first of May.

But that’s not Caulfield’s immediate concern. It’s food and water and getting to a drive-through pantry is next to impossible without a car.

“Not to forget the people that don’t drive,” Caulfield said. “We need help too. I understand there are drive-through food pantries. Everybody wants to keep no contact, but, for some of us, that’s really hard.”

United Way of Lehigh Acres delivered food to Gwendolyn and James, and that covered them for about a week. It helps them now, but, per United Way rules, they must wait another 30 day to qualify for another food delievry.

They say the bus in their Lehigh Acres neighborhood isn’t running right now. So they walk they walk twenty to thirty minutes to the closest bus stop or food pantry.

“We have done that in the past where we have book bags and like little boxes and bags to carry stuff,” Caulfield said.

But carrying jugs or water bottles is out of the question. And they can’t afford an Uber every day.

The goal is “finding someone at least to help us get some water in the house,” Caulfield said.

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