By Barry Gwinn
Liz Pecora and Vicki Johnson showed up at our last town meeting (Nov. 15) to address the Goodland Civic Association (GCA) membership. Pecora’s husband, Donald, has long been active in the Goodland community. Pecora and Johnson came by to enlist support for Our Daily Bread Food Pantry at the Family Baptist Church (FBC) in Marco. The FBC is one of nine island churches supporting this effort and is running it out of their church on Winterberry Drive. “Last winter, after researching the problem, we determined to open a food pantry on Marco Island,” said Johnson, “We found that locally, about 39% of our elementary school children were in a free or subsidized breakfast and lunch program. When school is out for summer, the children no longer receive subsidized food. Additionally many of the jobs for their parents go away for the summer. Some of our families must choose between paying for rent, utilities, medicine, or food.” Johnson found that there were no food pantries serving this demographic between Everglades City, Airport Road and I-75. Presenting their research, Pecora andJohnson were instrumental in convincing the FBC board to move forward with the project. Fortuitously, Donald Pecora is a member of that board. “We are a choice pantry,” says Liz Pecora, “The food is not prepackaged and the guests can shop for what they need. We started out providing mostly canned foods, but have added fresh bakery goods from Publix, fresh vegetables and fruits from Grace Place Leftovers, and meat, eggs and refrigerated foods from the Harry Chapin Food Pantry. Additional refrigerators and freezers would expand the offerings even more.”
The Food Pantry has been up and running since January 2016, and is picking up steam. “From zero guests in January, we now serve an average of 600 a month,” says Johnson, “So far this year, we have served approximately 2,900 people in 683 families who live and work [on the island]. About 75% of these guests are Spanish speaking. We are constantly getting new families.” But to keep all this going takes volunteers. “There is always a need for volunteers,” says Johnson, “We need 20 volunteers just for [the] day the pantryis open. (The Food Pantry is open on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month from 10 AM to noon.) We also need help each week to unload, date, and shelve the food coming in.” Spanish speaking volunteers are especially needed for pantry days, Johnson says. “No matter what your skills, we can find a job for you. Our volunteers range from 8 to 80 and work for as little as two hours a month to more than 10 hours per week.” Leaving no stone unturned, Johnson would love to hear from those with experience writing grants and raising funds, necessary for new equipment.
For those wishing to help, The Food Pantry is located at and managed by the Family Baptist Church, 1450 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island in the small education building. Telephone: 239-394-1646, x225. Website: fbcmarco.com/ministries/benevolence-foodpantry. Email OurDailyBread@fbcmarco.com or email Liz Pecora directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’ll be glad to hear from you.
Barry was a practicing attorney before he worked as a Special Agent of the FBI for 31 years. Barry worked for several government agencies another ten years before retiring to Goodland in 2006. Barry is presently the Secretary of the Goodland Civic Association.