2001 Airport Rd S, Naples, FL
NAPLES — The St. Matthew’s House food pantry, usually stocked full of donated, non-perishable food, is at its lowest point of the year.
The pantry is has no instant milk, beans and rice and is low on various other staples such as tomatoes, soups and pasta and fruits.
“In the two years I’ve been here, we’ve never ever been out of rice,” said volunteer Judy Martin, as she throws in one of the last small boxes of cereal into a brown paper bag.
St. Matthew’s House, a homeless shelter in East Naples that also operates a soup kitchen about a block away on Airport Road South, feeds about 500 people per month between the Naples and Bonita Springs pantries.
Martin spends her mornings filling 25-40 bags that will go out daily to families struggling to make ends meet. Each bag is designed to feed a family of four for two days.
But, Tuesday morning at the Naples pantry, Martin can only fill each bag about halfway before running out of things to give. She makes up the difference by adding “filler” _ food-like chips and power bars.
“It’s looking pretty sparse,” said Julie Clay, spokeswoman for St.
Matthew’s House. “It’s just cleared out and unfortunately people are still coming in (for food bags).”
Clay has worked at the shelter for three years and the dwindling supply may be the worst she’s ever seen. This time of year is tough because winter residents are not back yet and local residents are stretched thin to give because of the recession.
St. Matthew’s House Executive Chef Brian Elwell recently ordered 9,000 pounds of food from the Harry Chapin Food Bank to be delivered next week.
That food will last about one month and does not include many of the items the shelter needs for its direct assistance program.
The amount of food currently on the shelves might last through Wednesday, said Kerri Sparks, assistant director of development. It’s a situation that she considers “scary.”