The bounty of fall harvests and the Thanksgiving holiday are here! In the spirit of the season, I spoke with dedicated leaders committed to taking action so those dealing with hunger and food insecurity issues are given assistance now and throughout the year.
Kari Lefort, the Collier Resource Center CEO, shared comments about food insecurity in Naples, as well as her organization’s mission to help, and also how you, as a reader, can help CRC and the clients it serves.
Her organization views those who are without the resources to purchase food and feed their families as an often “hidden” issue. Though there was heightened attention focused on this issue with the arrival of COVID and in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
If a client approaches the Collier Resource Center about food needs, they will be connected to food pantries and other resources to help ensure that their cupboards are filled with nutritious, varied offerings.
And as an integral part of follow up, free case management services are provided to pinpoint resources to sort through other issues and solve problems short-term and long. These might be housing, medical and dental care, senior needs disability equipment, diapers and more, including mental health services.
Food is a basic necessity for all, Beth Hatch, the CEO of NAMI Collier stated, and this tenet is a foundation for their services to community members in need, from infants to seniors. And, for one group falling in between these age ranges, like school-age children, numerous studies have linked proper nutrition to better learning.
“Much of our mission is to strive to accord mental health the same priority as physical health,” says Hatch. Often, foodinsecurity is the basis for NAMI Collier clients to approach theorganization for a meal, then other help.
Nowhere was this so evident as it was in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Like CRC, NAMI Collier experienced an exponential demand; hot meals were then delivered door-to-door. This allowed for an assessment of storm damage, living conditions, and other issues exacerbated by the storm. This intentional and personal contact built trust among NAMI Collier’s clients and brought others – family and neighbors – to their fold.
In addition to keeping their sizable food pantry on Castello Drive well-stocked, “The Giving Room” is stocked with personal hygiene items, clothing, and household goods, which are available to all involved in NAMI programs.
Like the Collier Resource Center, ALL programs at NAMI Collier are free of charge to their clients. With goals of meeting basic needs and identifying other ways to provide mental health and other support to our fellow Neapolitans, both organizations are creating the possibility of stronger, healthier futures, with less trauma for the most vulnerable among us.
For this I am thankful. Might you join me in taking action to support these organizations and the families in their care?
Donations of monetary and in-kind gifts are welcome; as are contributions of food and other items suitable for use by these organization’s clients. Share their posts online; sign up for newsletters; perhaps, volunteer!
The Collier Resource Center and NAMI Collier can be contacted through their social media pages and via phone:
Collier Resource Center : 239.434.2030
NAMI Collier : 239.260.7300
If you would also like to receive a list of area food pantries for donations or to share, please email Karen at NaplesKCC@gmail.com -and consider following her @Naplesbythenumbers and @NaplesCaydenon Instagram for more stories about Life in Naples.