March to a Million Meals 2024 recap: we’re not finished yet!

Reporter: Lois Thome
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Year after year, WINK News makes a focused effort to fight an issue that impacts many people in Southwest Florida: hunger.

At the end of January, WINK News put the word out. Letting the community know it was almost time to start our March to a Million Meals.

Starting the Campaign

WINK News anchor Lois Thome spearheads the March to a Million Meals campaign.

“It renews my faith in people and how they love each other,” said Thome about being part of the campaign. “As a news anchor, we often read stories that show how divided we can be. This campaign shows that at the core of ourselves, we care about one another.”

March to a million meals

The goal of the March to a Million Meals campaign is to feed 1,000,000 people by March 1 with community-based donations.

Every dollar raised is $2 in meals to the Harry Chapin Food Bank. That means donating $6 feeds a family of four for a day or donating $60 feeds 10 families.

Teaming up with the Harry Chapin Food Bank, WINK News set out to help feed local families. They are the largest hunger relief nonprofit in SWFL. They’re also the only Feeding America member that serves Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties.

Off to a Powerful Start

Southwest Florida was ready. It didn’t take long for the donations to start pouring in. Quickly, donations led to more than 77,000 meals provided to hungry SWFL families.

Thome explained what it meant to be involved in WINK Feeds Families again in 2024.

“It means you’re part of something great,” said Thome. “A true community effort of neighbor helping neighbor. Personally, it makes me proud to be a part of it because it shows how caring my community is.”

Hour after hour, day after day, the donations didn’t stop coming. Donations ranged from just a couple of dollars to more than $1,000. By Feb. 7, WINK News was more than halfway to its goal and raised enough money for more than 567,000 meals.


Throughout the 2024 WINK Feeds Families campaign Thome witnessed many moments that were moving. She explained the most moving moment came down to meeting those in the community who benefit from the donations.

“I have met many seniors on fixed incomes and working families struggling to feed themselves,” said Thome. “It is so heartwarming to see the relief on their faces when someone hands them a box or bag of food. The stress just melts away. Our viewers did that, and that’s truly touching.”

Goal met but Campaign Continued

Ten days later, just a little after the halfway mark on Saturday morning, Feb. 17, WINK News reached the goal of 1,000,000 meals donated. But just because the goal was reached didn’t mean the mission was over.

More and more donations were made to feed hungry SWFL families. The effort made by those donating to continue doing so even after reaching the goal is part of what makes this so special to Thome.

Bags of food for March to a Million Meals. CREDIT: WINK News

Thome explained how people can continue to help feed those in need in the community.

“They can continue to support the Harry Chapin Food Bank of SWFL. Make a donation, donate non-perishable food items or volunteer. All of those things will make a difference,” said Thome.

As of 11 p.m., on Feb. 29, WINK Feeds Families has helped raise enough money to provide more than 1,341,000 meals. More than a quarter of a million more meals than the original goal.

Thanks to more than 4,300 supporters, WINK News reached more than 129% of the original goal.

We Can Always Raise More!

For Thome and all of WINK News, it doesn’t mean just a job well done but a hope for more. Thome noted one memory that particularly sticks out.

“A few years ago, my friend Billy Fuccillo, the owner of the Kia dealerships at the time, called me up when we were short of our goal … and showed up the next day with a $100,000 check to ensure we met our goal,” said Thome. “I believe that gift set off a chain reaction of giving that was wonderfully contagious.”

There is still time to donate. Donations will end at midnight on Thursday.

Click here to find out more information on how to donate to the WINK Feeds Families campaign.

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