As Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida marks six months of COVID-19 pandemic response efforts, one of the most visually upsetting images during this time is the often mile-long line of cars waiting at a food distribution. The Mobile Food Drop Program brings a semi-truck loaded with nonperishable pantry staples plus fresh foods, like dairy, eggs, meat and produce to a rural community, food desert or underserved area to distribute much-needed food to hundreds of people in just a few hours. Mobile food drops are happening three times a day in different locations across Central Florida to get more food to more people during the pandemic.
Each car in line represents a family that has been impacted either physically or financially, by the pandemic. With 1 in 6 people in Central Florida at risk of experiencing hunger due to COVID-19 and the economic upheaval, the line forms early on distribution day and can be several hours long. While these families share a common need for help putting food on the table tonight, each story is unique.
At a recent food distribution at Hummingbird Pantry in Titusville, cars snaked through the field waiting for volunteers to load a variety of food into truck beds, SUV hatches and even the back seat of some vehicles. While they waited, an assortment of inspirational signs brightened their day.
“The families, seniors and unemployed workers in this line have many stresses weighing them down,” explains Regina Stanford, Hummingbird Pantry director. “If these signs can bring a smile to their face and redirect their thoughts for a few moments, it’s worth it.”
One man and his kids drove through the line. As the volunteers loaded up boxes of cereal and bags of fresh produce into the car they saw one kid look over the back seat to see what kinds of food were in the boxes. He whipped back around facing the front seat and asked, “Dad, are we going to eat today?”
The man began to cry and simply said, “Yes.”
He went on to tell the volunteers how his family had not eaten in three days. They drove home with a trunk filled with food like bread, fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, peanut butter, eggs and cereal, among other items. Not only did they have food for that day, and the days ahead, but they had renewed hope.
“This and so many other stories are why I continue to push myself and do all I can to feed my community,” said Regina.
Your small acts of kindness during Hunger Action Month help #StockTheShelves for families across Central Florida. Thank you.