March to a Million Meals: Gladiolus Food Pantry distributes food with smiles

Reporter: Taylor Wirtz
Published: Updated:
The Gladiolus Food Pantry partners with the Harry Chapin Food Bank to help feed Southwest Florida families. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Lots of places feed the hungry.

But the people at the Gladiolus Food Pantry try every Wednesday to make the humbling experience, uplifting.

They just don’t hand people a box of food, instead, volunteers help them choose the food they want, just like going to the store.

On top of the usual, there are a few other items available to make people feel special. Volunteers will hand out everything from books to clothes along with food and water.

From the outside, the food panty looks more like a farmer’s market.

That’s the vision founder Miriam Ortiz had when she partnered with the Harry Chapin Food Bank 12 years ago.

She wanted everyone to be treated with dignity.

“You know what I always say, that’s priceless because people donate food, but I always say when we give it out, you know, sometimes people come and say, Oh, today’s my daughter’s birthday. And we’re like, oh, we have a cake. You know, you just see that smile is priceless,” Ortiz said. “They feel free to come and they know we don’t judge no one and we try to treat them with respect. And so we just are here for them.”

As a mother of five, Dolores Trianacampos admits there are days and weeks when she needs a helping hand.

The Gladiolus Food Pantry has welcomed her every time.

“And there’s days that me and my kids wouldn’t have ate if we didn’t come here,” Trianacampos said. “It makes more than the difference. They’re amazing. I guess the only reason that they are here is because they answer our prayers through God.”

To demonstrate just how many people need help, the Gladiolus Food Pantry handed out more 54 percent more food in 2021 compared to 2020.

Despite the demand, the food pantry never closed.

They are open every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Donate here and join us as we March to a Million Meals.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.