20% of children in Lee County face hunger that is above the state average, and those numbers have risen since the COVID-19 strike. Because peanut butter and jelly are staples in a child’s diet, one organization is trying to make a record-breaking PB&J collection in Fort Myers on Monday.

Hunger is a big problem in our society, especially when gas and food prices are much higher than usual; one in six people in southwest Florida is battling hunger. Stephanie Edwards, CEO of Community Cooperative, says they hold a PB&J drive every year because it’s one of the most sought-after items in the food bank. It is said that in 2021 more than 3,000 pounds of PB&J were delivered. Edwards says the people she’s seen in the mobile pantry lately are people who work but still have difficulty providing food for their families.

“Hunger in our community remains a problem,” Edwards said. “This is a real problem. And, frankly, gas prices, inflation, the cost of rent, are rising, we are starting to see more and more people, different families than we have seen before, who are starting to come and enjoy our services. It’s hard for them. It is difficult for them to make ends meet. And organizations like Community Cooperative are here to help them with food aid when they need it. ”

Edwards says that in 2021 alone, they served nearly 43,000 people and serve about 40 families every day. As summer approaches, many children will not be able to count on school meals. Edwards says the goal of the mobile food bank is to provide food for everyone and everyone who needs it.

“Our numbers have started to grow,” Edwards said. “I wouldn’t say they’re like pandemic figures. I mean, we’ve seen astronomical growth of 400% in all of our programs. It was a crazy time. But I can say, and our staff can say that gas prices, food costs, everything is starting to rise, people – working people – that’s who we really see, it’s just hard to make ends meet. So our number is increasing. ”

Edward says that if you need help, don’t hesitate and don’t be embarrassed because the pantry is for everyone.

You can donate to the Community Cooperative at 3429 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. from 14.00 to 16.00 Find out more about how and what to donate on the website of the Joint Cooperative.

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