As some normalcy returns, many struggle with food insecurity in Southwest Florida

Reporter: Taylor Wirtz Writer: Melissa Montoya
Published: Updated:
People wait in their cars in line for meals at St. Matthew’s House in Collier County Thursday, April 30, 2020. Credit: WINK News.

Thousands of families still need help putting food on the table and food banks say it will take a year for most people they serve to overcome food insecurity.

Floridians by the millions may have gotten the vaccine and unemployment numbers are low, but not all is well as endless lines of cars continue to show up to places that offer food.

Diana received her shot, but she still needs more time. Keeping everyone in her family fed is rough.

“We have a lot of kids and, you know, they’re still going to school but it’ll be tough when school is out to make sure they have plenty to eat,” said Diana, a food recipient at St. Matthew’s House.

She’s not alone.

St. Matthew’s House says prior to the pandemic, volunteers served about 400 households in a month.

This month alone, that number is more than 13,000.

“Recovering financially will take a while,” said Lorna Mclain, food assistant manager at St. Matthew’s House. “I mean it always does, especially for low-income and people that are in need. It always takes twice if not three times as much time.”

Ashlie Johnson, director of engagement at St. Matthew’s House, said people went months without jobs and income. Now, they have to catch up on rent, bills, and car payments.

“So if we could be a light in their world right now,” Johnson said. “That’s what St. Matthew’s House wants to be.”

St. Matthew’s House distributes food seven days a week every week. They welcome everyone.

For a list of food distributions, click here.

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