As the need keeps rising in our community, Second Harvest Food Bank has to be more creative in thinking of ways to get food out to the people who need it most. We rely on our amazing network of partner agencies to distribute the food in the most efficient way. But sometimes we have the opportunity to take a pantry on the road and set up shop with our Mobile Food Drops. Second Harvest Food Bank will load a tractor trailer up with non-perishables, fresh produce, and dairy products, and with the help of hardworking volunteers, distribute these bags directly out to families.
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of going out to a Mobile Food Drop out at Evans High School in Pine Hills. Save-A-Lot granted the Food Bank $10,000 to be used toward this program. Not only did they provide the bulk of the food, they also provided a ton of volunteers to help out!
Evans High School is located in one of Metro Orlando’s most distressed neighborhoods. Pine Hills is considered a food desert: the closest major grocery store is two miles beyond the community’s geographic boundaries, there is little to no public transportation available, it is rife with fast food restaurants. Poverty and all its associated challenges is the norm.
Through an Orange County Public School initiative, Evans was completely rebuilt in 2010. A community school model was included to support the families from the community with a broad range of services: medical, dental, food, social services, etc. The idea is to create a natural central meeting area for the community that can support their students by supporting their families.
When I walked up, I couldn’t believe what I saw. First, I couldn’t help but notice the line of cars waiting patiently for their groceries. Then I turned the corner only to see volunteers from Save-A-Lot, Orange County Public Schools, and Evans High School quickly putting together emergency food bags to go out to these families. They had already packed up hundreds of bags filled to the brim with fresh produce. I saw pallets of bread, potatoes, juices, and dairy products waiting in the refrigerated truck. It was incredible.
As soon as it was time, each car drove down the line and volunteers loaded trunks and back seats with bags and bags of groceries. Over 400 families were able to receive food that day. We are grateful for Save-A-Lot for this opportunity and a huge thanks goes to OCPS and Evans High School for working with us to make this happen.
It is easy to look at all the food going out and to get caught up in thinking that our mission is all about food. But as we saw the thankful looks on the faces of the families receiving this food … we were reminded that our mission is all about people … our neighbors.
Photos from the day: