This year has started out very busy for our food pantry. In January we served 484 families and in February, 536 families. This equates to 2955 individuals. Now that March is coming to a close, we project to have served around 1500 families in three months.
Our numbers correspond with the high amount of homeless residing in Lee County, Florida. New homeless numbers came out the end of last month and the count is up from last year. According to an article in the Fort Myers News Press, an annual homeless census identified 937 individuals and 75 families homeless. Of course, these are only the people that were actually found and counted. Numerous other people are living with family or friends in overcrowded housing and considered at-risk of being on the street. Officials predict around 3000 individuals to be homeless.
Southwest Florida Outreach Ministry is a member of the Lee County Homeless Coalition that has pledged to end homelessness. This broad based coalition includes county, municipal, nonprofit, law enforcement, faith-based and social services leaders who collaborate on strategies for combating homelessness.
Through collaboration and direct assistance, our Outreach Center is here to provide a helping hand to those in need. Our Food Pantry is now open from Monday-Saturday 9am-12 noon. We conduct intakes with all clients and make referrals to other programs and agencies when needed. Staff can also assist people with applying for public assistance. As a faith-based program we feel strongly that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and strive to positively change lives one day at a time! Through coalition building and direct service we get closer to this goal.