In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a second crisis is gripping Central Florida. Even as businesses begin to reopen, people are facing tough financial decisions. Rent is due. Medications need to be filled. Kids need to eat. These expenses didn’t disappear while stay-at-home orders were in place.
Central Florida has never seen so many people affected all at one time and so quickly. The financial impacts of COVID-19 hit hard and deep across the community. With extended closures, furloughs and layoffs, figuring out how to keep food on the table is now a daily dilemma for thousands of working families, kids and seniors – many for the very first time.
I’ve never seen so many people in need.”– Rosalind Johnson, founder of Big Sis. Inc.
At a recent mobile food distribution in Winter Garden, 500 families lined up in their cars waiting for the semi-truck filled with food to be unloaded. Jennifer was among them.
“This is the first time for me,” she explained. Jennifer worked in the catering and events industry until large gatherings of 10 or more people were prohibited to curb the spread of COVID-19. “I haven’t received my stimulus check yet and while I wait for that to come in I am very low on money.”
She drove off with a trunk filled with food. Volunteers from one of Second Harvest’s 550 feeding partners helped guide people in their cars around a circular driveway. At each stop different food items were placed inside the recipient’s trunk, including non-perishable pantry staples, fresh produce, milk, eggs and bread.
Second Harvest is working with local partners to host two or three mobile food distributions daily. At each one, the line of cars stretches down streets and around city blocks, speaking to the growing need for food. Increasing the number and frequency of mobile food distributions is one way Second Harvest is providing more food to more people during pandemic relief efforts. Current meal distribution is 300,000 meals a day.
“I’ve never seen so many people in need,” said Rosalind Johnson, founder of Big Sis, Inc. “There are families here who have never had to come to a food pantry before or ask for any kind of assistance. People from all walks of life.”
And in the midst of all the boxes of food and lines of cars, hope prevails.
“Thank you,” says Jennifer. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Many people are asking for help for the first time.
Your $10 gift can provide 40 meals.