How to Feed (and Otherwise Support) Hurricane Irma Relief Efforts in Florida and the Caribbean

Help is needed across the Atlantic, so donate to local organizations with ties to the community

hurricane irma
Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc across the Caribbean islands, including here on Jost Van Dyke, one of the British Virgin Islands.UK Department for International Development

With Hurricane Irma clear of the coastline and now a post-tropical cyclone, we are now grappling with the damage left in its wake and assessing the needs of those affected both at home and abroad. According to the latest reports from the New York Times, the Florida Keys and Jacksonville took the brunt of damage from the storm on the United States mainland, where 10 have died. The storm also brought flooding and power outages as far as Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina.

This is of course not to mention the extensive, unprecedented amount of destruction seen in Caribbean last week as Irma made landfall while still at Category 5. It's difficult to explain the scope of the damage: 36 are dead across the islands; thousands are evacuated and unable to return to their homes; on the island of Barbuda, 90 percent of all built structures have been destroyed.

Americans banded together to help those affected, and who are still be affected, by the destruction of Hurricane Harvey. To provide immediate assistance to those facing shortages of food, Farm Share, a 27-year-old Florida-based charity donates food from farmers to low-income families. They have been collecting produce and nonperishable food items to give to victims for weeks after the devastation. Since the initial impact, they have distributed over 2 million pounds of food to those affected. Because they work with farmers, Farm Share is concerned about the condition of Florida's orange groves and the land swept up by the vegetable farmers and crops that were saturated with water. Their main needs for donations are fresh foods, but also necessary items they can provide to families such as toilet paper, paper towels and toothbrushes. It's time for us to rally for our neighbors in the southeast, as well as in the Caribbean. Here are some other ways you can help feed, or otherwise support, Hurricane Irma relief efforts:

  • Feeding South Florida and Feeding Northeast Florida: These organizations connect millions of pounds of food to the appropriate networks of social service agencies.
  • United Way of the Florida Keys: The United Way works with a network of nonprofits in the Florida Keys including the Florida Keys Children's Shelter, the Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition, and the Star of the Sea Outreach Mission.
  • Convoy of Hope: This Springfield, Mo.-based nonprofit has set up a base of operations to distribute food and supplies on the British Virgin Islands.
  • Tim Duncan Virgin Islands Relief Fund: Former San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan, a native of St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, has started a fund to help his hometown, having lived through Hurricane Hugo as a team. He is matching financial contributions up to $1,000,000.
  • ConPRmetidos: The Puerto Rico-based nonprofit, co-founded by Lote 23 proprietor Cristina Sumaza, has set up a fund to provide food, shelter, and water on the island.

If you're looking to donate elsewhere, remember to check independent sites such as Charity Navigator and Charity Watch for their ratings. We also recommend focusing your dollars on organizations with long ties to the communities in question when possible.