A wish fulfilled, a dream come true, a prayer answered. Those phrases encapsulate what the Our Daily Bread Food Pantry is experiencing thanks to the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations.
The nonprofit recently received a check for $79,470 from the Washington, D.C.-based trade association. The funds will enable Our Daily Bread to purchase a long-desired and much-needed walk-in cooler and freezer at a time when need for its services is exploding.
“We now have 14 freezers and refrigerators, and that makes it very difficult to divide up the food,” said Jo Anne Lundquist, Our Daily Bread’s board president and director of food procurement and facilities. “It’s going to make things so much easier having a walk-in freezer. “Beyond that, it’s (the donation) more money to put food in the freezer. So it’s been amazing.”
Our Daily Bread now serves an average of 10,000 people monthly, compared to about 2,500 people before onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with demand growing weekly. “The number of guests has increased between 400-and-500 percent and our costs have increased about the same, year over year,” said Our Daily Bread co-founder Liz Pecora, the board’s vice president, and the charity’s director of development and communications.
NAPEO was slated to hold its 2020 Annual Conference and Marketplace on Marco Island earlier this month. But the conference shifted to a virtual format as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This donation is part of the organization’s Gives Back initiative that support’s charities in the cities that support the annual event.
“We started NAPEO Gives Back to leave the communities that host our conferences and meetings a little better off than they were before we arrived,” NAPEO’s former chairman and the initiative’s driving force, Barron Guss, has said. “We know the Our Daily Bread Food Pantry is making a meaningful difference in Marco Island and Collier County and we hope to give their already strong efforts a boost by raising a significant amount of money during our conference in September.”
The donation was presented at a gathering that included Pecora and Lundquist, fellow board members Vicki Johnson and Nancy Kot, a host of Our Daily Bread volunteers and NAPEO member Abram Finkelstein , president of Stafflink Outsourcing in Sunrise. Included was a multimedia link that enabled the board members to briefly address a session of NAPEO’s annual conference.
“Not only have you provided food and a freezer for us, NAPEO Gives Back, but you also are providing something that’s absolutely invaluable: hope, hope for all of the guests who come to our pantry, especially during this pandemic,” said Johnson. “We are so grateful for this blessing.”
Our Daily Bread Food Pantry is located at 1450 Winterberry Drive. The pantry is open on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., with weekly mobile pantry service throughout the community. Food donations can be dropped off at the 24-hour drop off box behind the building. For more information, including donating and volunteering, visit ourdailybreadfoodpantry.com or call 259-5188.