Several programs are now available to ensure fellow islanders, including children do not go hungry this summer.
The School District of Lee County is again partnering with Florida’s Summer BreakSpot program to provide free breakfast and lunch during summer vacation. There are no income requirements or registration required. Any person age 18 or younger is allowed to come and eat meals on site, since grab-and-go service is no longer available.
Locations on the island include:
• Breakfast at Matlacha Community Center, 4577 Pine Island Road, NW, Matlacha, 239-771-1078 — June 13 to July 29, 9:30-10 am, Each weekday, Monday through Friday, except for July 4.
• Lunch at Phillips Park Community Pool, 5675 Sesame Drive, Bokeelia 239-772-4876 — June 7 to July 29, 11:45 am-12:15 pm, each weekday, Monday through Friday, except for July 4.
Kiwanis Pool Parties for kids of all ages will be held Saturday, June 11, and Saturday, July 30, at the Pine Island Community Pool. Pool admission, hot dogs, watermelon, chips, cookies and drinks will be available to happy families! Be sure to join the fun!
Harry Helping Boxes are now available. Each box contains a variety of nutritious, non-perishable foods. The kits provide 15 to 20 pounds of food to prepare an average of 15 family meals. All of the free food locations on the island are partnering to ensure islanders are both prepared for a severe weather event and so that no one goes hungry this summer.
Boxes are available at the Pine Island United Methodist Church, the Pine Island Food Pantry, the Pine Island Community Church Food Closet and the Beacon of Hope during their normal hours, and a couple of special kids events this summer.
Karen Durand, executive director of the Pine Island Food Pantry and chair of the Pine Island United Methodist Church Food4Kidz Program, said these supplemental food programs are in addition to the free food pantry sources serving the Pine Island and Matlacha area year-round.
“We have seen clients’ visits significantly increase and more new clients coming by in recent months,” Durand said. “We hope fellow islanders who are food insecure due to the higher costs of everything in our lives today are taking advantage of all of the local resources available, as we strive to ensure ‘no one goes hungry’ on the island.’”
Year around food availability and agency contact information is as follows:
• Pine Island Food Pantry is in the Life Center Building at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church, 12175 Stringfellow Road, Bokeelia. It is open Mondays and Thursdays from 8:30 am to 10:30 am except for USPS holidays. An ID is required to indicate proof of residence in their service area of Pine Island and greater Matlacha. Food amounts are distributed by family size and ages. Clients may pick up an entire food order twice per month and bread is available anytime the pantry is open. In addition, a supplemental Care and Share program is available once per month to clients 60 years of age and older. Each box contains a variety of nutritious, non-perishable foods. Pine island FISH 239-283-4442, will deliver on mornings the pantry is open if a client has no transportation and calls in advance. For additional information, please visit https://pineislandfoodpantry.org/ or call 727-475-6428.
• Pine Island Community Church Thrift Store, 5320 Doug Taylor Circle, St. James City. Free bread is available every day in the Thrift Store and on Tuesday and Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm, the Free Food Closet offers a limited supply of nonperishable food items.
• Community Cooperative Mobile Pantry is held on the third Friday of each month from 10-11:30 am in the Pine Island United Methodist Church parking lot, 5701 Pine Island Road, Bokeelia. An ID is required. Only one mobile pantry visit in Lee County is allowed each month. It’s suggested that you bring your own bags.
• Beacon of Hope/ United Way Agency on Pine Island, 5090 Doug Taylor Circle, St. James City. A Feed America Mobile Pantry is available in the parking lot each Saturday from 9:30-11 am, which includes bread, bakery sweets and sometimes produce and frozen meat from several area Publix stores.
The Beacon also offers a Beacon Bites (Meals on Wheels) program and has a small Emergency Food Pantry in the office, available when they are open on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 am to 5 pm Pine Island FISH (239-283-4442 ) may be able to help with transportation to the Beacon, if needed.
For more information about the Beacon of Hope, please visit https://beaconofhopepineisland.com/ or call 239-283-5123.