Like many people, I begin my day with a cup of coffee and the day’s headlines. Some days I get my news from television, other days it is from any number of local and national newsletters delivered to my inbox. This week, neither of those were my primary source of information. To take the pulse on how we are doing in Central Florida, I turned to Second Harvest Food Bank’s Food Finder tool. The Food Finder is an online search tool that helps people searching for food assistance easily access the information they need.
Every day this week, I opened the tool to find an increasingly higher number of search results, including a record high of 2,293 unique searches on Wednesday. This was all I needed to see to know how quickly an economic crisis has unfolded as more and more business cancel events, close their doors and adhere to social distancing guidelines due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida has already doubled the amount of food leaving its distribution center on a daily basis to stock the shelves at local emergency food pantries across all six counties. Emergency food pantries continue to be the front line in this evolving situation and a convenient way for individuals and families to find the food they need in their neighborhood.
How to Use the Food Finder
At www.feedhopenow.org/need, visitors simply input their address or ZIP Code and a list of nearby feeding partners is reported, along with a map. Each result provides a location, phone number and its hours of operation. Please call ahead as many pantries operate with volunteers and hours may change.
Help if You Can
Overall, the need for food assistance remains high. NPR reported that 1 in 5 households has lost work due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many low-wage workers live paycheck to paycheck and do not have an emergency fund set aside. The best way to help feed families in crisis is through monetary donations or by starting a virtual food drive. The funds raised will help purchase additional food resources in a safe and secure way and distribute it to those most affected by these uncertain times.