The Food Finder is a unique online tool that helps people in need of food assistance easily locate an emergency food pantry or location nearby where they can access the food resources they need. Since March 12, more than 15,000 searches have been performed on this online tool. As more and more households are impacted economically by closures and reduced hours as a result of the coronavirus, the need for food assistance continues to grow.
One Heart for Women and Children in Orlando typically serves 3,000 families each month. However, 900 families reached out for help and picked up food in just three days last week.
“The demand is growing and we’re just getting started,” said Doug Bedle, community relations director at One Heart.
As people see news coverage and reach out on social media for help, they are directed to the Food Finder as the best resource for food nearby.
“We don’t want anyone to drive across Central Florida when resources are available in their neighborhood,” explains Patti DeLacruz, Agency Relations Manager for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. “Save your gas money.”
With just a few key strokes at www.feedhopenow.org/need, the Food Finder provides results organized by distance, with the closest pantry listed first. Results include the organization name, address, phone number and distribution days and times. A map shows exactly where the pantry is located. The Food Finder is updated daily.
Food pantries have adapted their distribution practices to limit person to person contact during the coronavirus outbreak. Many are distributing pre-packed bags instead of offering clients the option to choose the foods their families like best. Volunteers are also loading items directly into car trunks to limit contact as well.
“I know many people are interested in mobile drops, the drive through pantry option, but there are 500 active feeding partners ready to help today. A mobile drop may not happen in your area for several days,” Patti added.