Meals for Hope giving out 500,000 meals on Saturday

Reporter: Tiffany Rizzo Writer: Paul Dolan

In an event called Holidays Without Hunger, the organization Meals of Hope plans to pack 500,000 meals in just a weekend, but they still need help.

There are plenty of people in Southwest Florida that are hurting this year and are struggling to put food on the table.

It’s one way that Meals of Hope makes the season a little brighter.

Meals of Hope shirt. CREDIT: WINK News

But Saturday is their biggest event of the year, and they need more volunteers.

Meals for Hope plans to pack 500,000 meals in only two hours, and this year, cinnamon sugar diced oatmeal is on the menu.

Stephen Popper, the CEO of Meals for Hope, said they have about 15 weekly food pantries and give food to about 4,000 families each week.

“When people give to food pantries or do a food drive, many times, people forget about breakfast. So having a really healthy, nutritious breakfast to give out is so important and so needed in our community,” Popper said.

“The demand for food assistance really has exploded. And it’s been a double whammy for people that are really living on the edge. They’re dealing with the after-effects of Hurricane in. But also they’re dealing with the rapid inflation that we’re all feeling,” Popper said.

WINK News spoke with Beth Hatch, the CEO of Nami Collier which is a Meals for Hope partner.

Packing food at the Meals of Hope event. CREDIT: WINK News

Hatch explained the great need for food in the Southwest Florida community also and said a hot meal can go a long way.

“We all need a solid meal to be able to do what we do each day. And it’s so important for growth, and it affects our mental health too,” Hatch said.

Since it’s Giving Tuesday, Hatch is hopeful people are in the Christmas spirit a few weeks early.

“It’s that spirit of giving and that’s what the holidays are truly about and helping others and knowing that they’re not alone. In this process, especially the recovery and rebuilding process and southwest Florida has gone through,” Hatch said.

Meals packed. CREDIT: WINK News

“It’s a great opportunity for people to give back to their neighbors who are also hurting,” Popper said.

If you are interested in helping out with the Meals for Hope mission, the event is on Saturday at the Lee County Civic Center from 9 to 11 a.m.

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