Major Food Distribution Groups Still Scrambling To Keep Up With Demand A Year Into Pandemic – CBS Miami
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s been a year since the pandemic started and major food distribution agencies are still scrambling to keep up with demand.
At Farm Share’s Homestead warehouse, CEO Stephen Shelley begins another day of grocery distribution.
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This also applies to Paco Velez, the President and CEO of Feeding South Florida.
The day starts early with three shifts a day sending food to distribution points.
“We, Feeding South Florida and our sister food banks in America, have never seen anything like it,” Velez said.
A year into the pandemic, major food distribution agencies in South Florida continue to provide a lifeline.
“Today we can still see that the demand for food has increased by more than 60% compared to the previous year,” said Shelley.
A year of long lines at food distribution sites has been an ongoing theme in the pandemic saga.
It is truly remarkable that so much food has been provided since March 2020.
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“What we saw in our first distribution, when we took enough food for 700 families, was that we were 3,000 families worth scarce food,” Velez said.
For feeding in South Florida, distributions rose from 700,000 cartons to 1.5 million during the pandemic. Like Farm Share, they needed to speed up the process as donations decreased and food needs increased due to the difficult economic times.
“At the height of the pandemic, March through July, demand rose more than 600%,” Shelley said.
And over the past year, the makeup of those sitting in those cars lining up for dinner has mixed up.
Yes, there were traditionally insecure customers. Then there were the new unemployed, including thousands upon thousands as the cruise lines closed and the tourism industry staggered and slowly came to a standstill.
“Suddenly they couldn’t put any more food on the table for their families and they came to our food distributors to get food,” Shelley said. “And because we’ve never relied on a food bank in their lives, we’ve become a critical lifeline for them.”
And that was the story all summer. During the fall and winter when the pandemic hit South Florida economically, Feeding South Florida was involved in 38 distributions per day.
“We worked overtime and didn’t observe any public holidays,” said Velez. “We made sure our families have food when they need it. Because of this, we distribute in the same places and at the same time every week. “
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For groceries, visit FeedingSouthFlorida.org or FarmShare.org.