St. Matthew’s House Food Distribution sees growing demand

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

People got up as early as 7 a.m. for their meal at St. Matthew’s House Food Distribution at the Paradise Coast Complex.

Some families struggle to get by, while others are picking up food for those who can’t make it.

WINK News spoke with Gina Palermo, who regularly picks up food from St. Matthew’s House Food Distribution.

“I pretty much just drive around like a grocery store,” said Palermo.

To give to seniors whom she knows need a helping hand.

“If we get meat, I’ll make one family one week gets all the meat. Instead of giving them one or two, it kind of gives them a whole selection,” said Palermo. “And then some of the older people, I’ll repackage it because they don’t want it all.”

The long line at the Paradise Coast Sports Complex in Collier County stretched a considerable distance. St. Matthew’s House explained it’s seeing a growing number of seniors at its distributions and shelters.

“Approximately almost a half of our clients or families that come here to distribution, they’re seniors. They’re in that situation where they don’t have anybody that can take care of them,” said Manny Vasquez, the food coordinator at St. Matthew’s House.

Worse, says the Women’s Foundation of Collier County, is the rising number of seniors who are homeless. Eileen Connolly-Keesler is the president and CEO, and she told WINK News it starts when a spouse passes away.

“Now she’s faced with one social security check instead of two. And as these rents are just going up, and up and up, they’re just being displaced out of it. So, they’re living in cars; they’re living in tents,” said Connolly-Keesle. “So, they’re, you know, they’re living on the streets, unfortunately. And that I think is going to continue. That’s not something that’s easily fixed.”

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