Harry Chapin and Healthy Start Coalition of SWFL helping make ends meet for locals

Reporter: Tiffany Rizzo Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Bills, medication, gas and food are all a struggle for most Florida residents. That’s where the Harry Chapin Food Bank and Healthy Start Coalition of Southwest Florida, partnering with Lee County Electric Cooperative, food distribution sites come into play.

Everyone waiting in the long line of cars at St. Raphael Catholic Church was waiting for food on Tuesday.

“With the gas prices going up, medications going up, everything going up, how do you live?” said Joanne Dzilinski. “You can’t, so this is your only thing to do. Go sit in the food line.”

“It’s great to have some food, you know, while we get the chance just save up some money,” said Alex Aguiar.

On Tuesday, LCEC partnered with Harry Chapin and the Healthy Start Coalition of Southwest Florida to help families put food on the table.

WINK News spoke with Dzilinski while she was waiting in line. She lives with her husband and explained without the help these organizations are providing, she’s unsure how they would live.

“You have to make your choice. It’s either food, gas or you can’t really do entertainment, medication. Medications is the number one thing to– I think, I spend close to $3,000 or $4,000 a year on medications,” said Dzilinski.

So many people WINK News spoke with had similar stories. So many things are so expensive some of the people in line are praying to make ends meet.

“Just go from day to day. That’s it, you know, and thank God that we make it. We wake up. We have little bit food on the table,” said Margarita Valdez.

Valdez lost her husband a year and a half ago.

“I can’t just stop living. I have to keep going,” said Valdez.

One way she does that is by cooking up all the food she receives for herself and others.

“I like to cook,” said Valdez. “They have vegetables. They have potatoes, rice, canned goods, you know, like, tomato sauce, paste, spaghetti, chicken, frozen chicken, the big packages, which is very helpful.”

The drive-thru fed 700 families in Lehigh Acres. Volunteers also handed out baby products for up to 250 families in Lehigh Acres.

St. Raphael Catholic Church in Lehigh hosts a food distribution every Tuesday morning at 8:00 to help families in need.

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