Beach Baptist helping workers with meal boxes
Hospitality workers who were hit hard by the devastating economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Fort Myers Beach, have a helping hand from Beach Baptist Church as the industry battles to regain its footing.
The church has been providing boxes of food targeted for hospitality workers as part of a program provided through the Southern Baptist Convention’s Feeding Florida food subsidy initiative, Pastor Shawn Critser said.
Critser said local businesses have been sending representatives to the church to pick up the “emergency relief meals” for their workers. The meal boxes contain tuna fish, canned chicken, canned beans, peanut butter and jelly and what he calls “normal pantry-level food.”
The program started a couple weeks ago with 1,500 meal boxes which were down to about 1,000 as of Friday. The Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce has worked to get the word out about the meals for workers.
The meal boxes are not restricted to hospitality industry workers. Anybody from the public can pick them up, Critser said. The pickup days are Tuesday and Thursday outside Beach Baptist Church on Connecticut Street from 9 a.m. to noon.
Workers “still seem to be in need,” Critser said. Critser said the process of having a representative pick up 50 to 60 bulk boxes at a time of the meals makes it easier for businesses to pass out the food to those who need it. Each meal box has enough food for about two days per person, he said.
Beach Baptist Church has also applied to receive a grant from the county to help with its Choice Market food pantry. The Lee County Board of County Commissioners has approved allocating $5,000 grants to all food pantries in the county as part of funds distributed to the county from the federal CARES Act. Critser said the Harry Chapin Food Bank has also helped with providing emergency meals.
“I think the need is still here,” Critser said.