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Mobile food pantries offer a food resource for residents and their pets

July 31, 2019
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Local food pantries and mobile food banks offer a much-needed boost for families in need. Lehigh Acres has quite a few standing food pantries, which run at various times throughout the week. There are also two mobile food banks operating in Lehigh twice monthly: Harry Chapin Food Bank and Community Cooperative. Both banks allow a verified resident one trip through the pantry per month.

According to Rebecca Busby Community Cooperative's Food Pantry Coordinator, a common misconception is that you need to prove your income or must be on food stamps to meet their pantry's requirements.

"Many of the people who come just need that little extra help each month. The only requirement is that they are a Lehigh resident and bring their driver's license. Also each household is only allowed one trip to the mobile pantry per month. Our mobile pantry carries a variety of food items and beverages including: breads, meat, soup, juices, beans, fresh vegetable and pastas," Busby said.

Community Cooperative offers additional services including programs such as Community Caf & Markets; Growing Healthy Kids; Meals on Wheels; Mobile food pantries and social and education resource centers.

Some local residents might feel a greater strain financially and suffer food shortages if the Trump Administration's food assistance program changes are implemented.

Recent news stories report that more than 3 million people could soon lose their food stamps if the proposed changes occur, including families in Southwest Florida. Many of those who could be affected are working families and seniors on limited incomes who need food.

While mobile pantries are known for offering an assortment of food items and beverages for people, they do carry food items and supplies for furry household members as well.

According to Brian Wierima, Gulf Coast Humane Society's Community Relations coordinator, due to the generous donations from the community, GCHS often has a surplus of dog and cat food that it, in turn, donates to local food pantries.

"Following Hurricane Irma, people really stepped up to donate. We always have an overstock, so we wanted to get it to the right people. We first began donating that surplus locally to the Community Cooperative soup kitchen. Then to Lehigh Acres Community Services and now we bring our extra dry and wet dog and cat food to Community Cooperatives mobile pantries twice a month," Wierima said.

During the most recent mobile pantry held at Veterans Park, the GCHS brought about 325 pounds of cat and dog food.

"We went through most of that food. We also had a surplus of dog shampoos and sprays," Wierima said.

According to Wierima, the donation of pet food can make all the difference for families facing financial difficulties.

"We want to prevent people from having to surrender their animals when they fall on hard times. Besides our food donations. We want to also spread awareness about our low-cost spay and neuter program and our veterinary clinic. We are willing to work with pet owners to make sure their pets get spayed or neutered," Wierima said.

The Gulf Coast Humane Society is also making a donation plea to the public for more pet food and supplies.

"Once we receive the donations, we make sure that it goes to a great cause and get it out to needy pets," Wierima said.

Pet food and supply donations can be dropped off at the Gulf Coast Humane Society at 2010 Arcadia Street, Fort Myers. Phone: (239) 332 0364.

For more information on GCHS programs and events, visit

Community Cooperative's mobile pantry will be at Lehigh Senior High School, at 901 Gunnery Road N in Lehigh Acres from 3 to 5 p.m. on Aug. 15 and Sept. 19, and at Veterans Community Park at 55 Homestead Road Lehigh Acres from 4 to 6 p.m. on Aug. 27 and Sept. 24.

For more information on Community Cooperatives soup kitchen, mobile pantries and other services visit



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