Marco Island is known for its beaches, its beauty, its tourism, and its supposed affluence. But is there something hidden or omitted in that description? Thirty-eight percent of the children in Tommie Barfield Elementary School qualify for a program that provides free or subsidized breakfast, lunch and weekend food. Marco Island’s busy season of tourism winds down in the months following winter. As our “snowbirds” go away, so do many of the jobs on the island.
Our Daily Bread Food Pantry, located and managed by The Family Church at 1450 Winterberry Drive, is serving the needs of many in these difficult times. A part of the Greater Marco Benevolence Ministry, this emergency food resource is partnered with the Harry Chapin Food Bank and nine local churches, including Marco Presbyterian Church, Wesley United Methodist Church, San Marco Catholic Church, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Marco Lutheran, New Life Community, United Church of Marco, Goodland Baptist Church, and The Family Church. The shelves in the pantry are stocked with food and other grocery items. Once a month, families and individuals in need may come for supplies of food and toiletries.
Since its inception, as of January 30, 2016, a total of 174 people have used this resource. That has been 81 adults, 87 children, and six seniors from Marco Island, Goodland, and the Isles of Capri; Thirty-one families in total. On April 9, a record number of 92 people visited Our Daily Bread for food and other necessities. The pantry is open every month on the second and fourth Saturdays from 10 AM to 12 PM. At present, visits are limited to once a month and quantities are limited based on householdsize, to allow an ample supply for all those in need. The pantry is also available at other times by appointment.
The idea for Our Daily Bread was originally conceived by the organization’s leader, Jo Anne Lundquist. Lundquist told Coastal Breeze News that her inspiration came from God. She believes that God brought her to The Family Church, showed her the available space in the church’s education building, and brought faith to reality in Our Daily Bread, her mission to feed and serve those in need. Our Daily Bread Community Coordinator, Liz Pecora and Church Coordinator Vicki Johnson also agree that their efforts have been a labor of love and embodiment of their faith.
The three leaders express their desire to inform the community about this service. They all agreed that sometimes people who are truly in need are too proud to request and accept help. The pantry is available by appointment to anyone wishing privacy. All records are completely confidential. They send this message from the Bible to those in need: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” – Matthew 25:35.
Our Daily Bread is a community effort with the mission to serve the community. The Boy Scouts and the youth group of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church have held food drives specifically to benefit Our Daily Bread. The parishioners of San Marco Catholic Church have been instrumental in supplying food.
The Board of Directors of Our Daily Bread is especially proud of their “Birthday Bundles,” an idea brought to life by Linda James of the United Church of Marco. The bundle consists of abaking dish filled with supplies for a fun birthday for a child age 10 or younger, as birthdays should always be celebrations of life.
Our Daily Bread will soon be receiving 37 cases of food, much of what has been donated by Publix, from Calvary Chapel Pantry in Fort Lauderdale. Our Daily Bread is listed as an emergency food service with 211 Collier (call 211 or 239-263-4211) and Why Hunger, a grassroots support organization working to support networks in the worldwide fight against hunger. The efforts of Our Daily Bread are all a part of a greater hope to fulfill the message of the Lord‘s Prayer: “Give us this day, our daily bread.”
How can you help? Donations of non-perishable foods, paper goods, baby items and toiletries are always needed. Monetary donations are also welcome to aid in the purchase of these items. Volunteers are needed to sort and shelve food or to work at times when the food pantry is open. Spanish speaking volunteers are needed to act as interpreters during the pantry’s operating hours. Most importantly, you can help by just spreading the word.
Lundquist, Pecora and Johnson say that their favorite part of this ministry is the chance to touch the lives of others through their faith in God. If a guest at Our Daily Bread would like a Bible, they are given one. There are also DVDs of the life of Jesus available for the children. As they leave the pantry, the guests are always asked if they would like the staff to pray for them; not just for their food, but for any of their needs.
To learn more about Our Daily Bread, visit www.fbcmarco.com/ministries/benevolence-foodpantry, email OurDailyBread@fbcmarco.com, or call 239-394-1646, ext. 225.