Across the United States, a growing number of schools have established food pantries to assist their students and families to help ends meet. One of our local schools, Fort Myers Middle Academy, is providing a readily accessible resource of food assistance to about twenty students who are utilizing the food pantry. There are about five to ten additional students who rotate in and out of the program as the need arises in their families.
The food pantry started at the beginning of the 2020 school year. While adjusting to restrictions due to COVID-19, during the summer, over thirty five families participated in the program. The principal, Mrs. Lynn Edward, along with the school counselor, Ms. Monique Campbell, both saw a need for this program at Fort Myers Middle Academy. They take pride in having an on-site food pantry that is convenient for students and their families to access throughout the school year and during the school breaks. Ms. Anna Bethel, student counselor, coordinates the program this year and Ms. Amber Kelty has assisted.
Fort Myers Middle Academy is very fortunate to have community partners like Grace Works Unlimited, who partnered with the school in 2019-2020 to launch their food pantry as part of their Blessings/Pantries Program. Grace Works Unlimited keeps the pantry fully stocked. Additionally, the pantry has expanded by the kindness of food and monetary donations from the Gussie’s Girls Project and former teacher, Mrs. Maggie White.
Food pantries are a natural fit for schools. They are on school-site and easily accessible by students and their families. The location makes students and families feel at ease to visit on a regular basis, if needed.
When students were asked how the food pantry helps them and their families, one sixth grader replied, “The food pantry helps provide a little more food for my family.” A seventh grader said, “The food pantry helps my family save money.”
The response to the program has been amazing! Students have been able to not only get items for themselves, but for other siblings who do not attend the school. It has truly been a positive experience for all involved, according to members of the staff. Fort Myers Middle Academy is grateful for the helping hands of Grace Works Unlimited and other donors.
The time has come for us to get busy recruiting volunteers and planning strategies in response to the negative legislation our own state legislature is promulgating in voter suppression laws. To our like-minded family and friends, we have been blessed with honest, humane leadership in President Biden and Vice President Harris who focus on the health and welfare of Americans. Note the stimulus package and the steady progress made in getting folks vaccinated against the COVID 19 virus. Let’s build upon that blessing!
Let’s create a countywide coalition that will support voting rights, racial equity, clean water and air, as well as economic growth. The Lee Blue Wave Coalition, supported by the Lee County Democrats, invites all like-minded organizations, churches, civic and fraternal groups and individuals in Lee County to come together to form a formidable partnership that will organize, plan, strategize, and lead the action of getting folks registered to vote, providing voter education, and ultimately getting folks to vote. This is a serious agenda, especially now that our lawmakers both state and local are legislating voter suppression, making it more difficult for ordinary citizens to vote.
When many of us demonstrated during the 1960s for the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, we did not dream that 60 years later, lawmakers would wage a huge effort to wipe out the democratic gains that civil rights legislation brought. But here we are, witnessing this egregious movement. It is our civic duty to fight voter suppression and expand the vote to all citizens. This is not a partisan effort.
We are not a passive people. We will honor the legacy of our fore parents who endured far worst conditions so that we may have more opportunities for a better life. Let us, therefore, resolve now that we will not accept this return to the Jim Crow era. Let us resolve to organize our resources to create a most powerful effort to neutralize Jim Crow efforts. We have an excellent blueprint in Stacy Abrams and her coalition in Georgia who organized and not only cast their electoral votes for the present progressive leadership, but also sent two progressive Senators to Washington, D.C., one African American and one Jewish. Stacy Abrams and her successful efforts is another blessing we must honor.
We want to build a coalition of progressive groups who believe in our Democracy and will work hard to maintain it and continue to work for equal justice. Did you know that peaceful demonstrations in this country are under attack? We have much work to do!
If you are interested in becoming a part of this progressive, democratic coalition that will work to protect human rights, voting rights and justice for all, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We need you, your organization, your expertise.
Audrea Anderson, Geraldine Ware, Kathy Dupuy-Bruno, Esq.