Nearly a year after Hurricane Irma hit Southwest Florida on September 10, 2017, Meals of Hope still provides services to families whose homes were damaged and individuals who lost jobs and need additional support services.
In the eight months prior to Irma, Meals of Hope distributed 700,000 pounds of food through its pantries. In the six weeks after the storm, 850,000 pounds were distributed, and the organization ended the year having distributed 2.2 million pounds of food locally. Prior to Irma, food was distributed at three locations, and for six weeks afterward, 45 different distribution locations were used (and many still receive services today).
In addition to distributing food, water and hot meals after Irma (including 4,000 lunches a week to Everglades City), Meals of Hope also provided basic necessities such as diapers, feminine hygiene and adult incontinence products, and cleaning supplies.
“There was a real collaborative effort to help our community,” said Stephen Popper, president/CEO of Meals of Hope. “We staged water throughout North Collier County Fire District before the storm hit, and within 24 hours of the storm passing, we were distributing food and water. We held a food pantry in front of our office the day after the hurricane hit.”
Meals of Hope also was impacted by the storm. The organization lost power for 17 days and had $120,000 worth of building damage. Some employees could not get to work because of road conditions, electrical outages and gas shortages, but others on the team worked additional hours to ensure community needs were met.
To view interviews regarding the storm’s aftermath, please visit: