WINK News’ March to a Million Meals raises more than $536K

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The WINK Feeds Families March to a Million Meals has come to an end this year and, thanks to you, surpassed its goal. The campaign will remain open until the end of the day Wednesday.

These dollars will help feed people in need all over Southwest Florida, and it is no secret our community is facing a hunger crisis. You can see lines every day at food distribution sites. Richard LeBer, president and CEO of the Harry Chapin Food Bank, says the people of Southwest Florida were hit with a triple whammy: the pandemic, inflation, and Hurricane Ian.

Demand for food is higher than ever, and LeBer says working families and seniors are some of the most vulnerable. The March to a Million Meals campaign support provides them with canned goods and fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, and more.

“It’s heartbreaking to see a situation where you have a small child who’s struggling in school because, you know, they didn’t have any food to eat over the weekend, or a senior who’s having to choose between buying food to put on the table and pay for the medications that they need to keep them healthy, or a working family that’s dealing with hurricane repairs and loss of a job and all of those kinds of challenges,” LeBer said. “It’s just wonderful to be able to share some good news and celebrate how generous this community is to support everybody who needs help.”

Together, WINK viewers and readers have raised more than $500,000. People in our community are hungry year-round, so this continued support is greatly appreciated.

Every day in February, WINK News introduced you to the people who benefit from the March to a Million Meals campaign—people like Debra.

“I just lost my job. I was there for three years or so, and my husband has cancer. He’s on social security, disability, and of course, it’s not much to pay the bills. So I needed to get help,” said Debra.

You also got to know some volunteers who make it all happen by packing food kits or handing them out at food distributions—people like MaryLou Phillips.

“Somebody one time came through in a brand-new Cadillac. And I heard someone make a comment about that. And I said, but you don’t know. She may have just lost her job yesterday, and she’s waiting for this to be taken back to the dealership. So, there is no judgment. Absolutely no judgment,” Phillips said.

LeBer explains that the demand for food is increasing. “We’ve seen kind of a triple whammy, right? We had, we had the pandemic, and that affected a lot of people and still was affecting people.”

Then there’s the hurricane and inflation. Harry Chapin says every dollar donated by you is put to good use. Ninety-six cents of every dollar goes to a food program.

“We just ordered about $500,000 worth of food for three weeks. So it’ll last us about a month,” said Christopher Tolzmann, donor services assistant for the Harry Chapin Food Bank.

While WINK News’ March to a Million Meals is done for this year, the need for food is ongoing. So if you can help, please help.

“There are hungry people in Southwest Florida who need to be fed every single day,” said Tolzmann.

If you want to donate directly to the Harry Chapin Food Bank, you can do so by clicking here. You can also find out how to volunteer by clicking here.

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