Thanksgiving 2009
May 26, 2010
Hunger Numbers in Lee County are Staggering
July 26, 2010

Summer of Hunger

By Francesca Donlan. May 11, 2009, 1:10 A.M. — It’s the perfect storm.

A dramatic rise in unemployment, the collapse of the local real estate market and a weakened national economy combined to fuel an unprecedented rise in the number of people seeking the most basic of necessities – food – here in Lee County.

The crisis, likened to a natural disaster, shines a bright light on the need to seek solutions – quickly.

The News-Press gathered more than 40 stakeholders and community leaders last month for a candid community discussion on what must change.

The tone was urgent. A principal knows students who will go hungry this summer. A director at a social service center has seniors who want meals she can’t provide. The Salvation Army talks about cutting back on food for the first time in its history.

At the top of the solutions list: Create a collaborative network.

The outmoded system of multiple agencies working in silos no longer can serve the unprecedented number of people who need food – now.

“We shouldn’t be competing over feeding the hungry,” said Jim Nathan, CEO of Lee Memorial Health System. “We need more communication.”

They also determined they need to reach out to the community.

“No one church, no one agency and no one task force can do it all,” said Megan Lucas Spears, resource management director at The Salvation Army. “We all have to pull together.”

Moving food

Pulling together means finding different ways to feed the growing communities of hungry families.

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