Urban Farmers In Training
An exciting new partnership between CCMI's Cafe Education Program, Roots Heritage Garden and The Freedom and Virtue Institute recently kicked off a new program called UFIT or Urban Farmers In Training. This program is another effort to provide job training to CCMI case coach clients who are looking for a fresh start. The program lasts twelve weeks and is taught by volunteer Master Gardeners with all supplies and gardening location provided by Roots Heritage Garden. Students are taught both in the classroom and through hands on experience in the dirt. The UFIT program implements all pesticide free growing practices. Two bee hives from CCMI Cafe Education's Bee Training partnership are being used to help pollinate the garden as well. Produce grown from the program may be sold at the garden's produce stand that is open to the public seven days a week. Not only are students taught about growing practices, plants, and harvesting but they are also taught an entire component on entrepreneurial business skills provided by the Freedom and Virtue Institute. The Freedom and Virtue Institute promotes innovative and entrepreneurial activities in the local community that present individuals as the primary initiators and implementers. Entrepreneurial skills can be utilized to expand the garden training into a small business that may support or sustain an individual's livelihood.
The mantra of UFIT is Grow Some, Eat Some, Share Some, and Sell Some, meaning, students learn how to successfully Grow the food, how to Eat more healthy by preparing fresh food, how to Share the bounty with others as a small portion of the produce is donated to CCMI's Everyday Cafe and how to Sell the produce for extra income. The opportunity is available for students to lease an acre of land to grow their own food for sale at farmer's markets at the successful completion of the training program.
Roots Heritage Garden is an amazing place! Currently, the garden grows 27 types of produce. The garden is located in the Dunbar neighborhood of Fort Myers. This area of Fort Myers can be described as a food desert or an area isolated from access to large grocery stores that offer fresh and affordable food needed for residents to maintain a healthy diet. Dollar General is the closest food store in walking distance and it takes 2-3 buses to get to the closest traditional grocery store. As a result, Roots Heritage Garden is a welcomed solution to the absence of fresh food markets in the area providing healthy and affordable food to low income families.
If you are interested in learning more or providing support to this new effort to provide job opportunitiy and improve our community's sustainable food system, please contact Jo Ellen Keller, Cafe Education Director at 239-332-7687 ext. 116.
CCMI's Cafe Education Partners on Bee Training Program
CCMI's Education Program has teamed up with Lee County Extension and the Florida Bee Association to implement an innovative job training program for a select number of CCMI case coaching clients. The Bee Training Program provides instruction on how to build bee boxes, split hives into new boxes, develop the bee colony, and eventually harvest the honey. The program teaches practical skills about beekeeping including the use of bees for pollinating urban gardens. The Bee Association provided supplies and the bees for the project in addition to eight weeks of on the job training. Lee County Extension Services provided instruction as well.
One student who successfully completed the program seems to have a special gift for beekeeping and is pursuing building his own bee boxes that may be used with urban gardening. Another plans to build bee boxes on their property to be used for extra income. This program has never been tried before and resulted in a very successful experience for participants and instructors alike. Working to provide job training experience that promotes a sustainable food system is an exciting new venture for CCMI and partners. We look forward to the success of our first class participants and for the opportunities this may open in the future for other case coaching clients and the community at large. Contact Jo Ellen Keller, Cafe Education Director, at 239-332-7687 ext. 116 if you would like more information.
Wearing Blue for Child Abuse Prevention Month
In honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, CCMI staff took part
in wearing the color blue on Friday! In partnership with the Child Advocacy Center staff dressed in blue to help spread awareness of this heart-wrenching issue that exists in our communities. According to the Children's Home Society of Florida, a child is abused or neglected every 10 minutes in Florida. CCMI Case Coaches help connect and refer families with services to prevent abuse from occurring. One of these agencies is the Child Advocacy Center, a partner at our United Way House and provider of services to address child abuse and neglect
At CCMI we also partner with United Way and the Siemer Family Foundation to implement a program called Building Stronger Families. Through Building Stronger Families, CCMI Case Coaches work closely with Lee County Public Schools and United Way 211 to implement this program designed to
prevent children in the school system from becoming homeless. According to the National Center of Family
Homelessness, 49,886 children under 18 are homeless in the state of Florida. Currently the projected number of homeless children living in Lee County is 1300. These children are at higher risk of both physical and sexual abuse. This is an immediate crisis that Building Stronger Families addresses through outreach, prevention and referral.
Coming Together to Grow Healthy Food
Families & individuals living in poverty are at higher risk of poor health outcomes. Evidence shows that a lack of adequate access to healthy food negatively impacts a person's health. Eleven percent of Lee County residents lack access to healthy food. This is higher than the state average. Limited access to healthy foods measures the proportion of the population who are both living in poverty and do not live close to a grocery store. In addition, 36% of the restaurants in Lee County are fast food establishments. Studies show an increase in obesity and diabetes prevalence with increased access to fast food in a community. Obese adults and children are at greater risk for several conditions, including diabetes and chronic diseases. Thankfully, these diseases are also among the most preventable. Adopting healthy behaviors such as good nutrition and physical activity can prevent or control the effects of most chronic disease. CCMI is doing its part by increasing access to fresh and healthy food by using it in meals at the Everyday Cafes, Montessori School and Meals on Wheels programs.
Planting our own garden (pictured above) and partnering with other community gardens and growers allows us to affordably provide more fresh food and produce to areas in Lee County that are more isolated from grocery markets and have more access to small convenience store options with less food choice and higher prices. Often the less
expensive food is the least nutritious as well. By making it easier for families to make healthy choices in food, we can be a part of the solution to improving the health of our community. Providing families education about the benefits of eating healthy also helps change the mindset of how we should be feeding ourselves and our children.
Recently we received vegetable and herb donations from community gardeners from the Community Garden of Lakes Park. These wonderful community partners donated fresh food that was used in meals for the hungry. We also work with Roots Heritage Garden, ECHO, individual gardeners, Harry Chapin Food Bank, restaurants and others to collect donations and surplus produce to provide affordable fresh food access to low-income families. We launched our own garden planted on-site at CCMI's Fort Myers location in the Dunbar neighborhood.
In the spirit of providing education about the benefits of healthy food, our Montessori students learn about growing, harvesting, and preparing healthy foods. Students recently participated in garden improvements by painting a rain barrel that will brighten up the garden area and collect water for helping the plants grow! Students and the rain barrel project are pictured left.
If you have produce to donate or know of a garden or grower who would like to become a food partner, contact Meghan Madden at 239-332-7687 ext. 106.
Social Media Campaigns Helping to Feed the Hungry
Starting today, April 1 through April 30, CCMI will be participating in two separate social media campaigns to raise funding for programs feeding the hungry.
First, Walmart is giving out $3 million in grants to local hunger relief organizations across the country to help fight child hunger. CCMI has been chosen to participate in one of these events, Walmart's "Fighting Hunger Together" initiative begining today, April 1. Thank you to Walmart and Harry Chapin Food Bank, our local food bank, for helping us connect with this opportunity!!
We are one of 300 organizations from across the country that will be competing for a grant and we are hoping that our supporters will vote for us and spread the word about the voting campaign to others so that they will vote for us too! The most votes wins $20,000! CCMI would use this funding for our School Pantry Program that feeds hungry children in our community.
Grant winners will be decided through an online voting campaign at www.Facebook.com/walmart . The way the campaign works is that anyone can go directly to our personal campaign link:
to vote for CCMI. Supporters can vote once every day! At the end of the campaign, the programs receiving the most votes will win one of the grants. Vote for us NOW and help end child hunger in Lee County.
The second campaign, Promise a Plate, is sponsored by Busey Bank and will provide funding when someone connects with the campaign through social media. Connecting with Busey on Facebook and Twitter will help battle hunger in our communities!
- Like Busey Bank on Facebook or follow them on Twitter and they will donate twenty-four meals ($3)to a local food bank!
- Share a Promise A Plate post on Facebook or retweet us on Twitter and they will donate sixteen meals ($2) to a local food bank!
- Comment on Facebook or reply on Twitter (#PromiseAPlate) and Busey Bank will donate eight meals ($1) to a local food bank!
Promise a Plate, which coincides with Busey's 2nd Annual Community Promise Week, is an effort to provide financial assistance to food banks dedicated to feeding the hungry of our communities. It is a great opportunity to give back and help others in need.
Eastern Illinois Foodbank – Urbana, IL
Midwest Food Bank – Bloomington, IL
Northeast Community Fund – Decatur, IL Peoria Area Food Bank – Peoria, IL
Community Cooperative Ministries Incorporated – Cape Coral, FL
Harry Chapin Food Bank – Fort Myers, FL
*The final donation will be split evenly among participating organizations.
March for Meals & CCMI Raise Awareness of Senior Hunger
March For Meals is a national campaign held during the month of March, initiated and sponsored by the Meals On Wheels Association of America, to raise awareness of senior hunger and to encourage action on the part of local communities. Senior Nutrition Programs across the United States, like CCMI's Meals On Wheels, promote March For Meals through public events, partnerships with local businesses, volunteer recruitment and fundraising initiatives. CCMI's Meals On Wheels will also participate in Mayors For Meals with Cape Coral's Mayor Sullivan who will help deliver meals to seniors on March 19.
If you would like to participate in March for Meals and make a donation to help end senior hunger, CLICK HERE!
"Our Meals On Wheels programs are on the front lines every day in the battle against senior hunger," said Meals On Wheels Association President and CEO Ellie Hollander. "March for Meals is a time when communities can come together to stand with their local Meals On Wheels program and support our mission to end senior hunger in America by the year 2020."
About CCMI Meals On Wheels:
- 105,000 hot, nutritious meals were delivered to Meals On Wheels customers in 2012!
- Meals On Wheels meal delivery volunteers drove 197,000 miles to provide seniors with food in 2012!
- 52,700 total volunteer hours were worked at CCMI in 2012 with many of those hours donated by our amazing Meals On Wheels volunteers!
- Volunteers help decrease homebound seniors' isolation with a personal visit and by providing information about additional services if needed.
- We provide more intensive Case Coach follow up by referral for MOW participants through a grant from the Cape Coral Community Foundation.
- Groceries on Wheels (GOW) continues to be an additional service provided to the most low-income seniors. Identified seniors who do not have food in their house or family support to help purchase food are eligible to receive a GOW supplemental bag of emergency groceries, in addition to the delivered meals, to help get through the month.
- Donations and a grant from the Banfield Charitable Trust provides pet food to MOW participants' companion pets. Studies show companion pets can improve a senior's quality of life by decreasing anxiety, increasing feelings of well being, increasing social functioning, increasing mental capacity and providing a source of unconditional comfort and love. Pets also require nurturing and regular care instilling a sense of being needed in pet owners.
The Meals On Wheels Association of America is the only national association and network dedicated solely to ending senior hunger in America. We are the oldest and largest organization composed of and representing local, community-based Senior Nutrition Programs in all 50 states and U.S. territories. The vision of Meals On Wheels is to end senior hunger by 2020. To obtain more information about us or to locate a local Meals On Wheels program, visit our website at www.mowaa.org.
Clients & Community Renovate Body & Mind
As part of our Cafe Education Program, Certified instructor AFAA Fitness Trainer Cindy Banyai will be teaching ongoing beginner yoga classes at CCMI. Classes will be provided at both the Cape Coral and Fort Myers cafe locations to both clients and the general community. All are welcome!
Yoga is a mind-body practice incorporating stretching, breathing and relaxation. The practice is very useful with managing stress and anxiety while also improving fitness including balance, flexibility, and strength. Yoga has also been found helpful with reducing risk factors for chronic health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia. Many of our clients are dealing with an enormous amount of stress and participating in a fitness and yoga class once a week helps teach techniques for reducing anxiety. Implementing more fitness classes is one part of the Cafe Education Program's overall emphasis on healthy living.
Come join us for a mind body renovation, free of charge!
CCMI Cafe, Fort Myers, 3429 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. : Tuesdays at 3 pm
CCMI United Way House/Cafe, Cape Coral, 1105 Cultural Park Blvd. : Wednesdays at 10am
Call 239-332-7687 for more information.
CCMI Collaborates on Project Teaching Sustainable Solutions to Hunger
Several community partners recently brought together expertise on issues such as hunger, environmental stewardship and sustainable food growing practices to create an exciting project here in southwest Florida. The project combines teaching, urban gardening, aquaponics, and food distribution to the hungry to create a powerful example of successful collaboration addressing social and economic issues affecting our local community.
The project begins with Cape Coral's Island Coast High School's Academy of Natural Resources tilapia farming, aquaculture, and aquaponics program. Island Coast students learn how to harvest thousands of pounds of fish, sprouts, fruits and vegetables providing both vocational skills and a foundation for additional education. Approximately 1/3 of the harvest is donated to CCMI who uses the fresh food to feed the hungry. In addition, North Fort Myers-based ECHO, the Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization, Lakes Regional Park in south Fort Myers, and Roots Heritage Garden in Fort Myers have provided garden fruits & vegetables as well.
CCMI plans to build on this initial collaboration to expand the project's future success and provide learning for students, economic opportunity for the community, and fresh food for those in need. Read more and see video reported by Fort Myers News Press here!
First Presbyterian Church of Fort Myers Holiday Carol Sing
Sponsored by the Galloway Family of Dealerships
Come join us on Tuesday, December 11 at First Presbyterian Church, 2438 Second Street in downtown Fort Myers and celebrate the holidays by singing together at the 22nd Annual Holiday Carol Sing! The event has been a community tradition since 1984 presented by First Presbyterian Church of Fort Myers and sponsored by the Galloway Family of Dealerships. The holiday sing along is one of three hymn events organized by First Presbyterian Church to help feed the hungry throughout the year!
This year's 90-minute performance will feature the First Presbyterian Church Choir, soloists and other special guests singing favorite holiday carols with audience sing-a-longs. The event is a wonderful experience for the entire family including a special appearance for all those young at heart by Santa Claus.
Three carol sings are planned during the day:
1 p.m. -- 4 p.m. -- 7 p.m.
The doors will open 30 minutes prior to show time.
Guests are asked to bring at least two cans of non-perishable food as admission and a voluntary cash donation, if possible, to help CCMI feed the hungry. Residents who cannot attend any of the Holiday Carol Sing performances may still donate canned goods at either the Galloway Ford dealership on Boy Scout Drive or the Coconut Point Ford dealership on U.S. 41 in Estero or mail donations to CCMI, P. O. Box 2143, Fort Myers, FL 33902.
Last year, CCMI received more than 4,500 pounds of canned goods and other non-perishable items from the Holiday Carol Sing. The food was immediately distributed to those in need.
Montessori Students Create & Learn
The Community Montessori School is CCMI's early childhood education program that serves about 40 children ages 2-5 from families who are working or in school and at 150% below the poverty level. The program is located at CCMI in the Dunbar neighborhood of Fort Myers. Providing a comprehensive education to students is our goal and art, music and movement are important components of our curriculum that we provide each child.
Over the past year our students have been working on a variety of art projects while also participating in a long-term project, The Evolution of Art. The long-term project illustrates how a child sees and creates the image of a flower through an artistic medium and how that develops at age 2, age 3, age 4, and finally at age 5.
In honor of the work and creativity each student exhibited during the school year, a Gallery Night was hosted over the summer to display students' art to their friends and family. We are proud of the progress and effort each child made!
This project is possible due to continued funding from the City of Fort Myers Arts & Culture grant. Our students, families, and staff all say Thanks!
NEW COUPON CLASS TIMES AT CCMI WITH THE COUPON COACH!
Come participate in our latest Cafe Education class and learn to save hundreds of dollars every month on brand name grocery & household items that your family needs! Note the class time translated in Spanish!
Cape Coral: 1105 Cultural Park Blvd.
Fort Myers: 3429 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Cape Coral Everyday Café schedule: 10-11am materials provided
Friday October 5
Friday October 12
Friday October 19
Friday October 26
MLK Everyday Café schedule: 6-7pm materials provided
Wednesday October 24 *Translated in Spanish
Thursday October 25
Coupon Classes are sponsored by CouponsiWant.com,
FREE & Open to the community...
Bring your friends!
New Staff & Fresh Ideas at CCMI
The lazy days of summer did not slow things down at CCMI this year bringing us new staff members including Roger Mercado as Director of Social Services & Education and Shelly Oprea as Food Programs Manager. Both bring valuable experience and a renewed focus on health and wellness to the CCMI community.
Roger Mercado, former Director of Allocations & Community Planning at the United Way of Lee, Hendry, & Glades, joined CCMI in June and now oversees and manages our social service and education programs including our Fort Myers and Cape Coral United Way Resource Houses. Roger brings a re-vitalized focus on general health and wellnes to all CCMI programs. Client success has much to do with making healthy decisions in all aspects of life including physical, mental, financial, relationship, and spiritual aspects. Integrating a healthy approach to all programs provides opportunity for long-term solutions to complex problems. Roger has a Master in Social Work and many years of experience in both the social service/non-profit world as well as the business world. We are very excited to have him as part of the CCMI Team!
Shelly Oprea comes to CCMI from Edison College where she was employed as the former Operations Director of Food Services. She now works as Food Programs Manager coordinating the food programs at CCMI and believes strongly in providing fresh, healthy food to CCMI clients. Shelly focuses on innovative solutions to bring healthy food to the hungry like using steam to cook food in the kitchen. Steam ovens reduce cooking time and lower the fat content of food. Steam cooking also retains more vitamins than other cooking methods and is therefore touted as a far healthier way of preparing foods in less time making it a great fit for our Everyday Cafe program.
We are very excited to have both Roger and Shelly working at CCMI and look forward to the future as we enter into Fall of 2012!
A Focus on Health & Healing
Moving out of a life of poverty, hunger, homelessness & struggle is a complex endeavor. Each family or individual has a different story and a different road to achieving positive change. However, one element is constant among every person and every family. For everyone, successfully achieving change involves the element of getting healthy. The focus on health is comprehensive and involves spiritual, emotional, psychological, financial, and also physical components. CCMI will be putting a new focus on the physical aspect of health by teaching individuals to take care of and improve their bodies through physical excercise. CCMI clients are dealing with a variety of stressors in life that can easily take their toll on mental health, as well as, physical health and typically the focus on physical excercise gets lost in the day to day struggle.
A strengthened focus on getting healthy at CCMI is taking place. Currently, some CCMI staff members have been participating in the local Striders Club. The Striders Club is a group of about two dozen clients of Southwest Florida Addiction Services plus a few others from local groups and social service agencies who meet twice a week in downtown Fort Myers and walk or run together for fitness. Check out the recent article in the New Press.
We hope to expand the Striders Club model to the CCMI's cafe and market community to get people feeling better and utilizing a more comprehensive & holistic focus on healthy choices that will lead to sustainable and positive life change. We are already on our way with the support and collaboration of community partners donating supplies and funding and coordinating a team of 3 current Striders Club members to participate in CCMI's 2nd Annual Galloway Captiva Triathlon this weekend!
In addition, in recognition of the upcoming World Homeless Day on October 13, we will be kicking off quarterly bike clinics at the Fort Myers Everyday Cafe. A 45 minute session will discuss bike maintenance, offer supplies, and go over bike safety and riding. Stay posted because there will be more to come on this subject as we continue to expand access and opportunities for CCMI customers to engage in a healthy lifestyle and emphasize a comprehensive approach to solving the very complex social problems of hunger and homelessness.
CCMI Meals On Wheels Loves Our Pets
The Meals On Wheels program at CCMI is part of a national initiative started by the Meals On Wheels Association of America called We All Love Our Pets or WALOP. WALOP is a national initiative that seeks to unite Meals On Wheels programs across the country in their efforts to keep seniors and their beloved pets well nourished.
Thanks to a grant from the Banfield Charitable Trust, CCMI's Meals On Wheels program now provides pet food to our low-income seniors who are not able to access or afford purchasing the food on their own. We can now deliver pet food to seniors when we deliver their daily meal.
Anyone who has ever shared their life with a beloved pet understands that keeping a homebound senior's companion pet healthy is very important. Sometimes these faithful companions are the homebound senior's only "family" member and keeping them well nourished and healthy provides a sense of
security and well-being for both.
Thanks to MOWAA and Banfield Charitable Trust for partnering with us to support
seniors in southwest Florida!
Vote for CCMI to Receive up to $250,000!
CCMI has been nominated to participate in the Chase Community Giving Program!!! This program gives out $5 million in grants to the non-profits with the most votes through Facebook and Chase Community Giving soooooo Get Ready to Vote!
When voting opens on September 6th, 2012, we're going to need to get everyone involved to help decide where the $5 million in grants will go!
Two votes for everyone—plus get a bonus vote!
Everyone will automatically get 2 votes to use on Facebook. You can't use them both on CCMI, but there will be thousands of charities to pick from, so you shouldn't have a problem searching for another great organization to support.
Keeping with the spirit of giving, you'll have an opportunity to earn an extra vote. Just share a link from the Chase Community Giving app to your timeline. If one of your friends links back to the Chase Community Giving app and casts a vote of their own, voila! You'll earn an extra vote! You can use your extra vote on one of the 2 charities you already voted for, or a new charity—it's up to you!
Chase customers have 2 extra votes
Without Chase customers, Chase Community Giving wouldn't be possible. As a special thanks, Chase customers will have 2 extra votes. To use your customer appreciation votes, just go to Chase.com/ChaseGiving, log in, search charities, and cast your ballots!
Several levels of grants will be awarded and any amount will be greatly appreciated so beginning on September 6, let's all vote for feeding the hungry in Lee County!
A Miracle FUNraiser for CCMI!
You are invited to come to enjoy the Fort Myers Miracle Game, Fireworks, and a CCMI fundraiser on Saturday, Sep 1st, 2012 at 7:05 pm!!
Purchase The FUNraiser package that includes a game ticket and hot dog and soda voucher for only $12.00.
A Portion of these Proceeds Support CCMI Programs!
Enjoy a great night of Family, Fun, FunRaising & Baseball ....
THERE WILL BE FAN APPRECIATION FIREWORKS!!!
Order tickets online at MIRACLEFUN.COM (enter 'CCMI' as the password)
Tickets NOT ordered online will be available at will call on the day of the game
Coupon Class at CCMI with the Coupon Coach!
Come participate in our latest Cafe Education class and learn to save hundreds of dollars every month on brand name grocery & household items that your family needs!
Cape Coral: 1105 Cultural Park Blvd.
Fort Myers: 3429 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Cape Coral Everyday Café schedule: 10-11am materials provided
Friday August 17
Friday August 24
Friday August 31
Friday September 7
Friday September 14
Friday September 21
MLK Everyday Café schedule: 2-3pm materials provided
Tuesday August 21
Tuesday August 28
Tuesday September 4
Tuesday September 25
Meals on Wheels Pays Tribute to Volunteer Drivers
Recently the Meals on Wheels program held a Driver Dinner to say thank you to all the wonderful people who deliver meals to the homebound hungry in Lee County. Over 300 volunteers help make Meals on Wheels possible. Our drivers pick up meals at drop off sites and deliver the food along 29 routes encompassing Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Pine Island, North Fort Myers, and Lehigh Acres! Volunteers use their own cars and pay for their own gas. The amazing result of this effort is the fact that we delivered hot, nutritious meals to over 900 homebound individuals unable to shop for or prepare their own food in 2011. The majority of the individuals we serve are seniors but we also serve homebound disabled and frail clients as well. This support helps our clients maintain independence by helping them remain in their own home.
The Driver Dinner gave thanks to an amazing group of people living in our community who for a few hours a week, make a huge difference in another person's life.
Never doubt that a small group of commited people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ~Margaret Mead
Montessori Students Spread Their Artistic Wings
Community Montessori students are learning about different artists, artistic styles, and basically letting their creative juices flow! Our Art Instructor uses an amazing variety of mediums that expose students to new and unique ways to create art projects. This year kicked off with a monoprint project and students have been introduced to many of history's most well-known artists.
This year's theme is the "Evolution of Art" which builds on the weekly art work created by each student and ends with an examination of our student's vision of their everyday world at their different stages of development, ages 2-5, through drawings.
The Community Montessori School views art and music as necessary learning that broadens a child's understanding and appreciation of the larger world around them and strives to provide this learning experience through unique projects that spark the creative minds of our early childhood students. Our program is funded through the generous support of the City of Fort Myers Arts & Culture Grant and through private and in-
kind donations. We are always seeking donations of art supplies and volunteer participation. Contact Lisa Cronin at 239-332-0441 for more information on how to get involved!
CCMI Meals On Wheels to hold March For Meals CampaignOur Meals On Wheels program will be participating in the national 2012 March For Meals campaign. All month long CCMI will continue to raise awareness of senior hunger. We will update our activities on Twitter and Facebook so you can keep up with events. We hope to have lots of partnering on this effort. We need the community to come out and support our March For Meals events because our community's seniors are counting on us. We can't let them down. Volunteer as a driver, attend an event, make a donation, use social media to spread the word, all forms of collaboration make a difference.
March For Meals is a national campaign held during the month of March, initiated and sponsored by the Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA), to raise awareness of senior hunger and to encourage action on the part of local communities. We choose to promote March For Meals through public events, partnerships with local businesses, volunteer recruitment and fundraising initiatives. This year, Meals On Wheels programs across the country are also celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the inclusion of Senior Nutrition Programs in the Older Americans Act (OAA). The OAA is the primary piece of federal legislation that authorizes and supports vital nutrition services, both congregate and Meals On Wheels, to Americans age 60 and older.
The problem of senior hunger in America is getting worse. MOWAA-sponsored research has revealed that 7.5 million seniors in America face the threat of hunger. Meals On Wheels supporters should take MOWAA's Pledge online at mowwa.org/pledge – which means you refuse to tolerate senior hunger in the world's richest nation.
Watch for more upcoming news about March for Meals and call us 239-332-7687 ext. 112 to get involved!
We Are Meals On Wheels & Now Groceries on Wheels too!
"We Are Meals On Wheels" is a national effort to end senior hunger in the United States. Through this effort we are working to raise awareness of senior hunger, to build support and encourage people to get involved with our local Meals On Wheels program. Senior hunger in the United States is a solvable issue, and there are simple ways that anyone can get involved. The Meals On Wheels Association of America is the national network solely dedicated to ending senior hunger in the United States. We serve homebound seniors: a growing population who would otherwise go hungry. CCMI Meals on Wheels is one of 5,000 Meals On Wheels programs that are helping to end senior hunger by providing nutritious meals and other services for seniors in local communities.
A new outgrowth of CCMI's Meals on Wheels, Groceries on Wheels delivers groceries to approximately 30 senior clients currently in the Meals on Wheels program who cannot get to the grocery store and do not have money to pay for groceries or grocery services. As a part of a Civic Engagement class, Florida Gulf Coast University students were asked to create a community-outreach project in which they focused on the issue of hunger and worked with CCMI to establish the Groceries on Wheels program. The groceries are packaged at CCMI's Everyday Marketplace in Fort Myers then delivered to seniors in the greater Lee County area, including Cape Coral and Lehigh Acres. FGCU students organized fundraisers and food drives to underwrite to the $500 cost of the first month's deliveries.
Gulf Coast Village in Cape Coral and The Plantation community in Fort Myers both held fundraisers and food drives to help support the program kickoff.
The packaged groceries include peanut butter, oatmeal, fresh bananas and oranges, applesauce, canned chicken, fruit, vegetables and soup, tuna fish, crackers, granola bars and tea.
In order to continue this program and its efforts, CCMI is looking for groups, businesses, churches or individuals who would like to fund a month worth of groceries for 30 seniors at $500 or adopt a senior in the program for $20 a month. Call our Home Delivered Meals Team Leader, Kelly DeBoy at 239-332-7687 for more information on how to get involved!
Food is the Gateway at the Everyday Cafe
The finishing touches have been added to the physical space that was once the Fort Myers Soup Kitchen and has now been transformed into the CCMI Everyday Cafe. The new signage welcomes hungry and sometimes homeless customers to a community cafe setting that offers emergency food through choices in hot food items in a welcoming round table setting and also cold items for food to go. At the cafe, food is the gateway to other services, case management and referral for issues that address the underlying causes of hunger. On-site Case Coaches are available to connect customers to services. Life Coaching is also provided at CCMI and classes are provided at the cafe to invoke positive change such as Employment, Basic Writing, Language, Citizenship, Financial Literacy, Parenting and Healthy Living. Our approach both offers emergency assistance for basic needs and also long term solutions to hunger. Volunteers, Bob and Mary Ellen Cronin, donated and raised the new flag adorning our building grounds and Michelle Cronin Shroyer donated a remarkable piece of art that adds beauty to the customers' cafe environment.
MLK Everyday Cafe Grand Opening
On September 20, 2011 CCMI celebrated the grand opening of the Everyday Cafe located adjacent to CCMI's Everyday Marketplace at 3429 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd in Fort Myers. This is our second newly opened location since we began creating the sustainable customer choice model two years ago. Our cafes and markets decrease the stigma associated with standing in line for meals and groceries and reduces significant waste in the preselected menu items and grocery bag model.
Meals at our Fort Myers location are prepared by chefs and served by volunteers from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. instead of the previous hot meal from 11:30 a.m. -1 p.m. Selections include breakfast items and to go sandwiches in the morning, hot selections from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and sandwiches, salads, fruits, and afternoon snacks. "This model has successfully been used in other parts of the country and is the gateway to accessing those in need and addressing their specific issues from housing, job training, health care and other social services that will help them get back on their feet," said Owen. "Even the name has changed. We are no longer the Soup Kitchen. We are the Everyday Cafe providing a choice and a voice for the growing hungry in our area." The cafe provides on-site connections to Case Coaches, services and referrals to address the underlying causes of food insecurity and work towards long-term, positive change.
Community leaders provided support for the new project including John Sheppard, Fred Morgan, Colleen DePasquale, Cliff Smith, Judge Hugh Starnes, David Plazas conducting tableside service to the homeless and hungry. A ribbon cutting with CCMI staff, cafe donors and local officials kicked off the new project.
Once again we must thank our community partners for supporting an innovative idea and making it come to fruition. The vision and hard work put in over the past two years converting the old soup kitchen into an urban cafe by Architecture Inc. and Wright Construction were invaluable. Together we are making a difference.
"If you weren't able to arrive at lunchtime you were out of luck. Now we are able to serve more of those in need whether it's a healthy breakfast to a mother and her children in the morning or a worker who just needs to grab a sandwich and get back to work. We are still using the food we have on hand but in a more versatile way than the single-choice, take-it-or-leave-it tray model we had before." --Sarah Owen, CCMI Chief Executive Officer