Community Cooperative volunteer sees great value in helping, feeding others

Reporter: Lindsey Sablan
Published: Updated:
Volunteers at the Community Cooperative.

The price of groceries is leading to an increased need at nonprofits in Southwest Florida.

The Community Cooperative provides hot meals from their kitchen and food from their pantry to those in need, even if you can’t afford to donate.

On a recent dreary Thursday, Tracey Galloway’s cheerful smile brightened the entrance to the Community Cooperative.

“I’m delivering Meals on Wheels,” she said. “I have 14 stops. And I’ll be delivering warm meals.”

She volunteers to pick up food at their building at 3429 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard twice a week, and she drives it across town to people like Elijah — who are older or have special needs and can’t get out on their own.

The need for volunteers this time of year is just as critical as the need for food.

Tracey Galloway

Galloway knows firsthand because until recently, she was the CEO at the Community Cooperative.

“After a decade of serving as CEO of community cooperative, I knew that it was kind of time,” Galloway explained. “For me to kind of step back and let that next generation come in and carry that torch forward. But I never with the intent that I was just going to walk away from this organization because it means too much to me.”

One in six people in Lee County — likely someone on your street or at your church — don’t know where they will get their next meal.

“It’s something that is always going to require our attention, and I’m going to be here to be a part of that resolution,” she added.

Galloway’s successor, Stephanie Edwards, thought the need was starting to lift this year, but then inflation hit. “We see lots of new faces coming every single day. And now that food prices are really starting to soar; we see even more folks coming looking just for a little bit of assistance.”

When need typically increases between that and the holidays, Edwards says Community Cooperative could use your help.

“So we cook, prepare, chop and distribute over 1,000 meals every single day out of our little tiny kitchen.”

And most of that is done by volunteers like Galloway, who first started doing Meals on Wheels as a little girl alongside her grandmother.

Galloway said, “I really feel it’s a calling from something beyond my work here. It’s something that I kind of grew up with, and it’s a really strong… I have a strong affection to help our senior citizens.”

And she is back at it as an adult, making deliveries.

If you’d like to donate or learn how to help The Community Cooperative, click here.

Gulfshore Life magazine recognized Tracey Galloway as one of this year’s Men and Women of the Year issue.

You can read about her in this month’s magazine or click here.

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