Craig Peden with Tracey Galloway and Maureen and Barry Meltzer

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Nov. 25, 2013) – A local nonprofit and a newly married couple will not be going hungry during the next year thanks to the Veranda restaurant in downtown Fort Myers.

Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc. and Barry and Maureen Meltzer of Fort Myers will both be receiving $3,500 in restaurant credit from the Veranda as part of its 35th anniversary celebration.

CCMI is just one of six nonprofits that received $350 courtesy of the Veranda from May 1 to Oct. 31, 2013 for their work in feeding the hungry in Southwest Florida.

In addition to CCMI, the charities included the Harry Chapin Food Bank, F.I.S.H. of Sanibel, Inc., Nations Associations Charities, Inc., the Salvation Army Sally’s Café and Blessings in a Backpack.

“Being in the food industry, we are very aware of the great work many local agencies are doing each day to feed our hungry citizens,” said Craig Peden. “While we are thanking our patrons for 35 great years, we also wanted to give back to our community that still has thousands of citizens who aren’t sure where their next meal will come from.”

According to Peden, the restaurant donated $350 to a different food-related local charity each month and $3,500 of in-kind services.

“We are extremely grateful to all of our patrons who have helped us achieve this 35-year milestone,” said Paul Peden, who owns and operates the restaurant with his son Craig. “We wanted to do something special to celebrate which is why we chose monthly drawings during a six-month period.”

Veranda dinner patrons entered the drawings for a $350 gift certificate by completing an entry form provided with their guest checks. Diners could enter each time they dined at the Veranda, located at 2122 Second Street in downtown Fort Myers, from May 1 through Oct. 31, 2013, to increase their chances of winning. On Nov. 1, 2013, the Veranda drew the Meltzer’s name from more than 1,740 entries for a grand prize of a $3,500 house account at the restaurant.

“We were very pleasantly surprised to get a call that we had won,” said Maureen Meltzer, an auditor with Myers, Brettholtz & Company, PA in Fort Myers. “The Veranda is a special place to us, and now we will be able to share it with friends and family for a long time.”

The Meltzers are newlyweds. The couple originally dated 40 years ago in New York and after reconnecting a few years ago, were married in 2012.

“This is such a nice gift as we start our life together,” said Barry Meltzer, a local wallpaper contractor. “We are glad there is such a romantic place like the Veranda in Fort Myers, and we are looking forward to celebrating with friends at the restaurant on New Year’s Eve.”

“Congratulations to the Pedens and the Veranda for choosing to celebrate their 35th Anniversary by giving back to the community,” said Tracey Galloway, CEO of CCMI. “CCMI is very proud to be the recipient of this special gift. It will help us feed many people.”

CCMI is an innovative nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization made up of social service entrepreneurs fighting to end homelessness and hunger in our community. The agency provides more than 15,000 meals each month through its Everyday Cafés and Marketplaces and Meals on Wheels programs. CCMI also offers homeless and comprehensive life coaching services through its United Way Resource Houses, oversees an emergency mobile food pantry and supplies school pantries and weekend backpacks full of food to more than 1,500 children and their families each school year.

CCMI serves Fort Myers and the greater Lee County area, including Bonita Springs, Cape Coral and Lehigh Acres. CCMI works in partnership with United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades, Harry Chapin Food Bank and various community foundations as well as collaborating with fellow community and service groups including The School District of Lee County and numerous churches, businesses and community support organizations.

The Veranda restaurant features Southern regional cuisine with a full bar, extensive wine list and first-class service in a romantic setting. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. A mid-day menu is served Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. Dinner is served Monday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. Private dining is also available from 10 to 400 guests. Live entertainment is featured in the Veranda’s piano lounge Wednesday through Saturday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30. Valet or street parking is available.

For reservations and more information, call 239-332-2065 or visit