Keys residents cook up warm meals for other residents in need after Hurricane Irma

Lisa Miletti: Many residents still struggling with everyday life after storm

By Liane Morejon - Reporter

BIG PINE KEY, Fla. - For those in the Florida Keys who are continuing to cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the help of volunteers is crucial. And some folks are making a big difference. 
 
Bacon, eggs, ham and hash browns were delivered last week in Big Pine Key all the way from Indiana thanks to Randy Pearson, of Pearson Butcher Shop and Jill Gander, who drove the food down to the Keys.

Lisa Miletti and Julie Young-Buckius then whipped up breakfast for residents inside a booth at the Big Pine Key Flea Market. For them, it's a labor of love.

"Almost all the original problems are still lingering, because everyone's recovery is different," Miletti, of Ramrod Key, said.
 
Miletti, her husband Geno and other volunteers are trying to make sure finding food isn't one of the problems for residents in need.
 
"I cook food daily for delivery and then I bag up food for the people who can cook, bag up food and give it to them so they can give them to their neighbors. We also make soups for the elderly and it goes out," Miletti said.
 
Miletti has also brought in supplies for people in need after the hurricane, including beds, couches and tables.

"Everybody's grateful. It makes a huge difference. They don't have to spend the money on that," Miletti said. 
 
"It's free for anybody that needs it. There are so many people here in Big Pine," resident Cindy Cote said.
 
The gesture means so much more for those who are still struggling -- a warm meal not only nourishing the body, but also the soul.
 
"It's tough living in a tent and not having regular cooking areas, and things like that, and washing dishes is a chore. Little things are 10 times harder," a woman identified only as Lori said. "We've had people stop by and hand us a tray of cookies or bring us a meal. It's overwhelming. It's overwhelming."

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