Community Cooperative: Compassion at Work
January 21, 2014
The mission of Community Cooperative is to eliminate hunger and homelessness in Lee County while simultaneously inspiring and supporting sustained positive change in its clients by delivering innovative food, education and social service programs
Community Cooperative strives to be the leader in alleviating hunger and homelessness in our community by addressing key root causes. With a dedicated team of volunteers, board of directors and staff, Community Cooperative stays committed to our core responsibility to collect and distribute resources through a strong and viable network of community partners.
Community Cooperative is an exemplary steward of the resources entrusted to them, and serves their clients with COMPASSION and INTEGRITY. Through collaboration and ongoing education, Community Cooperative supports and strengthens those whose lives have been affected by hunger and homelessness, ensuring that they have access to the resources necessary to transform their lives with dignity.
Community Cooperative programs include: the Café Education, the Everyday Café, Everyday Marketplace, Food Outreach, Meals on Wheels, Homeless Services, Healthy School Pantry and Backs, and the United Way Resource House.
The Cafe Education works with the Social Services Team to provide opportunities for adults to learn EMPLOYMENT and FINANCIAL SKILLS, SELF-DEVELOPMENT and GOAL SETTING and to engage in a variety of other classes on HEALTH and WELLNESS topics that offer individuals an opportunity to gain the tools and knowledge to move forward and achieve positive life change.
The Everyday Café formerly the Fort Myers Soup Kitchen is a new model for providing emergency food to our community. Their innovative approach for long-term hunger elimination changes the mindset of those who serve and those being served, as well as the physical spaces and delivery model created for the distribution of food. They now provide people choices in emergency food in a community cafe setting that also provides opportunities to talk with on-site Life Coaches who will help individuals and families address the underlying issues causing hunger.
Through the development of neighborhood storefront cafés, they are able to provide food where hungry people live and work, and reach families at points of contact rather than expecting them to come to the traditional soup kitchens and pantries. The choice café model provides dining that includes choices in food such as nutritious salads, fruit, desserts and a compassionate, communal atmosphere where people can sit down, eat a meal, and be introduced to resources leading to positive change.
In addition, the café is no longer a soup kitchen but a community hub with a café and community area offering educational classes like financial & homebuyer literacy and our parenting series, Baby University. A child play area now offers parents a more welcoming environment and computer work stations for employment search and preparation are available as well. Case Coaches immediately identify & act on issues contributing to a customer’s food insecurity and our Homeless Concierge provides services to the more chronic homeless such as providing hygiene products, mail service, ID replacement and providing referrals and follow-up services. The embedded Everyday Café services create an atmosphere that offers tangible opportunities for individuals and families to achieve long-term, sustainable hunger solutions.
The Everyday Marketplace is a sustainable customer choice-centered model for long-term hunger elimination that provides a choice and a voice for the hungry in our community. The market includes ready-to-eat meals, fresh produce, eggs and bread, recipes for healthy meals, and cooking demonstrations, items traditionally not found in food pantries.
The Healthy School Pantry & Backpack Program provides emergency food to hungry children in our community. 70% of all children in Lee County Schools are eligible for free or reduced lunch. In the hardest hit areas, rates are as high as 98%. Many of these children go without food after school and on weekends until they return on Monday. Lack of food is also a problem during school holidays.