harry chapin food bank

The Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida will kick into high gear early in 2018 to make some serious strides
against hunger. On January 20, at Miromar Outlets in Estero, the food bank will celebrate a decade of walking to raise funds to feed the hungry in our community.

This will be the 10th annual WINK Feeds Families Hunger Walk, the Harry Chapin Food Bank’s biggest fundraiser of the year. The two-mile, non-competitive, family and pet-friendly walk will kick off at 9:30 a.m. that Saturday. People from all over Southwest Florida will come together, as they have since 2009, to form teams or walk individually.

The Walk supports emergency food programs that feed children, families, seniors and others in need through the food bank’s network of more than 150 partner agencies in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry counties. These agencies operate food pantries, soup kitchens and other feeding programs that serve 28,000 Southwest Floridians each week.
In the last three years, the walk has raised more than $300,000 each year. In 2017, the total was $325,000. “This is the largest public hunger relief event in our area,” said Richard LeBer, food bank president and CEO. “What a wonderful testament to the energy and generosity of our beautiful community!” The goal for the 2018 walk is $340,000.

“We’re proud to be a part of the community that’s helping to fight hunger and feed families,” said West McCann, marketing
executive–Lee County for Northern Trust Bank. “It’s part of our corporate culture,” he said. Northern Trust has sponsored the Hunger Walk’s kickoff sponsor breakfast for all 10 years. Particularly this year, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and its impact on the community, “supporting the WINK News Hunger Walk is more important than ever,” McCann said.
In Collier County alone, about 37,900 people are food insecure, which means they may not know where their next meal is coming from, according to Feeding America’s 2017 Map the Meal Gap study. Of that number, about 13,490 are children.

The food bank provides food to more than 30 nonprofit agencies in Collier County and through its mobile pantry program, called Fulfill. The Harry Chapin Food Bank has grown food distribution more than 90 percent in Collier County since 2013, with 4.8 million pounds distributed last fiscal year. Many loyal supporters have walked every year since 2009, like Keith Scoggins, Harry Chapin Food Bank board member and past board president. “I have participated in every Hunger Walk, because with all my heart, I believe in the Harry Chapin Food Bank mission “leading our community in the fight to end hunger,” Scoggins said.

Another walker close to our heart is Anne Paniagua, who for the last two years, at age 98 and 99, participated in the Hunger Walk. “I’m so glad I am here,” she said during an interview with a WINK News reporter for the 2017 Walk. “I’m able to do it. So far, so good.” Paniagua celebrated her 100th birthday in July. Whether or not she participates in the 2018 walk, she remains an inspiration. Each $1 donated can provide $8 in food value. In 2017, the Walk raised enough to provide $2.6 million worth of food to those in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry counties who often don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

The Harry Chapin Food Bank has earned a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, the nation’s leading nonprofit watchdog organization, for eight consecutive years. For more information or to register for the Walk, visit www.winkhungerwalk.com or:

• Marta Hodson at 239.334.7007, ext. 132 or martahodson@harrychapinfoodbank.org
• John Kuhn at 239.334.7007, ext. 152 or jkuhn@harrychapinfoodbank.org

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