Windermere couple donates to food pantry as part of their weight loss journey

Couple donating more than 200 cans of food ahead of holidays

WINDERMERE, Fla. – Justin and Karie Hein said they were surprised when they saw how many organizations are in need of food donations after they posted on a Facebook group page that they were looking to donate 216 cans of food to a Central Florida charity.

“It was really humbling honestly putting it out there and just kind of seeing all of the places that were kind of raising their hand saying, ‘We do need help, we do need support,’” Karie Hein said.

The couple said they began their weight loss journey in 2019, and after achieving a total of 215 pounds lost together, they felt it was an achievement to be shared with others.

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“We decided this year for Thanksgiving that — so, we’re actually full-time health coaches now — and we decided to pay it forward. So, in the spirit of giving we actually did a gratitude of give back challenge with our clients.”

Justin Hein said he lost 120 pounds and Karie 95 pounds. The 216 cans of veggies and beans were donated to the non-profit United Against Poverty.

“It was kind of one of those things it feels really nice to establish how much you’ve lost and how much you’ve achieved in your own journey but having that next step being able to pay that forward to folks that were in need,” Justin Hein said.

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“This is tremendous and depending on the variety and what it is this is gonna go fill the pantries of multiple families in our community,” Dan Samuels, director of philanthropy for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida said.

The nonprofit, which serves seven central Florida counties, said a recent survey showed 1 in 8 people go to bed hungry.

Second Harvest Food Bank said they usually see an uptick around the holiday season of people searching for a food bank or a food pantry, but this year, they saw a 40% to 50% increase compared to last year.

“We never expected inflation and a couple of hurricanes to push us so far over that edge and push so many families to the point of needing help to put food on the table,” Samuels said. “Last week alone we had over 300 families every day search on our website for a food pantry near them.”

The Hein’s said they’ll continue doing their part to help with those statistics.

“We’re actually thinking about going back out there and doing it again because there are so many places that are in need,” Karie Hein said.