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  • Writer's pictureRick Burnette

Can Doughnuts and Coffee Help Make a Difference in Immokalee?

Updated: Feb 22, 2022

From January through June 2021, Cultivate Abundance grew and collected 22,482 lbs. of local produce – amounting to 72,780 food servings – that was shared with the Immokalee farmworker community through the Misión Peniel food pantry. Between 275 and 400 clients are served each week.

Whereas most of the produce was donated by gardeners, Cultivate Abundance purchased 10,352 lbs. (40,384 food servings) from a couple of local growers using funds from two donors. One funding source is the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation associated with Dunkin’ Donuts. Another is the Points on the Wheel Mwen Grangou Initiative through which partnering coffee growers in Central America market their products for a fair price with Points on the Wheel applying resulting proceeds towards other causes.

One of the local growers benefiting from these funds is Jay Parson, a Fort Myers, Florida-based urban farmer who uses almost every square foot of his quarter acre property to grow food. Over 1,200 lbs. of collard, mustard, and turnip greens were purchased during the cool season followed by warm season okra, field peas, and mangoes. Over the same period, 100 dozen eggs from his home flock provided much needed protein for the Immokalee farmworker community.

Income from selling eggs and produce is a significant financial boost for the retiree and his wife, Gloria.

Another beneficiary is 12 Seasons Farm, a family operation owned by Danny and Vicki Blank of Olga, Florida, just outside of Fort Myers. Having spent several years growing quality organic vegetables for high end Southwest Florida hotels, restaurants and farmers markets, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in sudden financial hardship due to loss of business from established customers.

Fortunately, the Points on the Wheel and Dunkin’ Joy grants have helped to sustain 12 Seasons and ensure that the Misión Peniel food pantry clientele in Immokalee are able to access thousands of pounds of highly nutritious produce, including lettuce, eggplants, onions, papayas and mangoes.

On behalf of the Immokalee farmworker community, Misión Peniel, Jay and Gloria Parson, and 12 Seasons Farm, Cultivate Abundance extends a big thank you to Points on the Wheel and the Dunkin’ Joy Childhood Foundation for critical financial support during these challenging pandemic times.

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