March to a Million Meals: Moore Haven gifted meals

Reporter: Emma Heaton
Published: Updated:

It looks like a small town. A peaceful and quiet community, but underneath the green is a food desert.

A food desert is an urban area that is difficult for people to buy fresh and affordable food.

  • Click here for information on donating to WINK FEEDS FAMILIES – March To A Million Meals

Day after day, the people in Moore Haven, Glades County, fight to get basic food on the table, but in comes the Harry Chapin food bank, and their generosity is a lifeline.

Betty Mallard has spent years navigating limited resources in Moore Haven. She has lived here for 79 years.

A decade ago, the only supermarket, a U-save, closed its doors, turning Moore Haven into a food desert and leaving residents like Betty with no close access to fresh and healthy food.

The closest grocery store is 30 minutes away.

Betty shared her reaction to when the U-Save went away.

“Very inconvenient because if you can’t depend on your children all the time, because they have jobs and families too, so you just have to kind of wait, and we depend on one another,” she said.

Enter the Harry Chapin food bank, a lifeline for some in Moore Haven.

The non-profit holds monthly distributions for seniors, and in a statement, a spokesperson said the food bank transports healthy food to neighbors at no cost who live in designated “food deserts” and low-income areas.

While the food desert is in Glades, low-income expands far beyond that.

The green shading on this 2019 map from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the most current available, shows low-access areas in southwest Florida. Here you see most of Glades and a chunk of Hendry County are shaded.

In Lee County and Charlotte, there are fewer areas, but check out Collier County.

One of the wealthiest counties in the state has a large section, mostly south of 75, shaded in green, meaning people here are struggling, too.

Harry Chapin knows the need and regularly distributes food in Collier County through mobile food pantry distributions

While the organization can’t add a grocery store to Glades County, Harry Chapin is weaving hope into lives one distribution at a time.

The Harry Chapin Food Bank also has a new, innovative way to tackle food deserts a new grocery store on wheels.

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