FISH of SANCAP battles food insecurity from all angles with various meal programs including their Food Pantry, Meals-by-FISH hot meal delivery, and Backpack Program, which provides weekly food for school-aged children. The FISH Backpack Program is designed to battle childhood hunger by providing nutritious weekend food and extra snacks for children throughout the year, including summer and school breaks.
“Last year we began to see a large increase in requests to participate in the Backpack Program due to the additional strain the COVID crisis put on food insecure families,” says Alicia Tighe Orgera, Executive Director. “Those that rely on meals provided by their children’s schools—it’s an extra two meals per day, per child – really struggled with the extra expense.” In 2020, FISH distributed 1,974 food backpacks to children, an increase of 70% over 2019. FISH continues to see increased participation through the first quarter of 2021.
“The Kiwanis Club of Sanibel and Captiva have been incredible in providing FISH with emergency funding for our kids backpack program. Thanks to Kiwanis, since last spring we have been providing almost twice as much food in the backpacks as well as providing ingredients and recipe cards for a meal that families can cook together that is fresh, healthy, and kid-friendly,” continues Alicia.
FISH continues to proactively modify programs, including food backpacks, to meet the changing needs of vulnerable clients. “Many of our clients still have not returned to full ‘season’ work hours where they make the bulk of their annual income. Typically our meal programs are intended to be supplemental to household groceries, but we’ve realized that, due to COVID and the economic strains it has placed on many that use FISH services, these programs may be the vast majority of food brought into the home,” added Tighe.
The FISH food backpack program gives participating students non-perishable, nutritious foods that are easy to prepare, and great tasting, on a weekly basis. Parents can pick up the food bags at the FISH Walk-In Center located at 2430-B Periwinkle Way Monday-Friday between 10:00am and 3:45pm. The program is offered at no cost to participants. All backpacks contain protein, fruits and vegetables, snacks, breakfast cereal, soup and/or a pasta meal, milk, juice, and occasionally enhanced with a sweet treat. FISH also includes organic and vegetarian choices.
For nearly 40 years FISH has been a “neighbors helping neighbors” organization as the islands only wrap-around service provider offering a wide range of human services. FISH works through donations, and, with their professional staff, provides assistance to those that live, work or visit Sanibel and Captiva. To learn more about the programs and services of FISH, please contact Maria Espinoza, Assistant Executive Director, at (239) 472-4775 or visit their website at www.fishofsancap.org