Sudden job losses brought on by the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a surge in hunger with food banks across the nation reporting a huge spike in the number of people turning to them for help.
In South Florida the need has skyrocketed with many families now facing hunger for the first time.
“They’ve gone from a two-income household, to a one-income household or even a no-income household and it really is a shock to the system,” said Paco Vélez, the President of Feeding South Florida, the largest domestic hunger-relief organization in the area.
Vélez says to keep up with the demand they’ve increased the number of drive-thru and pick-up food distribution sites spanning the four counties they serve, from Palm Beach County down to Monroe County.
“About 45 percent of the individuals that we are now serving, are seeking assistance or the very first time ever. You see these families come into the lines. You see the look on their faces. You know they are first-timers. You know that they are lost. You know that they are desperate. You know there is fear in their eyes, but there’s also a little bit of relief that they are getting food. But the overwhelming sensation, is that there is fear of, ‘how long is this going to last? How long am I going to be without a job?’”
The increase in demand coincides with the opening of Feeding South Florida’s new state-of-the-art kitchen which just opened Monday in Boynton Beach.
Vélez says that’s where professional chefs and volunteers can now prepare up to 10,000 meals each day for children’s after-school and summer programs, meals for older adults and medically tailored meals.
Meals will then be delivered to members of the community who cannot leave their homes, like the elderly, sick or those who do not have forms of transportation to get to a distribution site.
“This is just the beginning, because the kitchen will serve the community by providing meals, workforce training, catering as social innovation, an incubator for community support, and family cooking classes,” he added.
As Feeding South Florida continues to work to increase its supplies and expand services to meet the high demand for the foreseeable future, they need monetary donations to keep up.
Every day, they update this list with the food distribution sites available that day.
They also have an agency locator to help connect you with non-profits and resources available in your area.