Compared to last year, Feeding South Florida has seen the demand for food double since COVID-19.
Paco Velez, president and CEO of Feeding South Florida, said all the food comes from farmers, distribution centers and retail stores, but it’s a challenge keeping stock during the pandemic.
Without jobs, more and more people are turning to food drives to eat. Feeding South Florida is feeling the impact.
“Families that Feeding South Florida service they don’t have an income,” said Velez. “So if we lose product and don’t have enough and they don’t get it, then they don’t eat.”
During this time last year, Feeding South Florida had given out 5 million pounds of food.
So far, more than 10 million pounds of food have gone out in just the few weeks of COVID-19.
He turned to retail stores.
“As we go and look at purchasing product from our national relationships you see that there is a two week, three week, sometimes even a four week lag time,” Velez said. “Some of the items we are looking at they tell us we won’t be able to get it until mid-May.”
Velez doesn’t have that much time, so he’s focusing more on farmers.
“We’re trying to have as many relationships as possible with as many growers as we can as well as with as many manufacturers as we can.”
On top of that, Feeding South Florida is now operating 24 hours, so they’ve hired more staff and volunteers.
The cost of doing business has tripled. Velez says he understands the demand.
“Our families are scared,” he said. “They don’t know when they’re going to get a job, if they’re going to get a job, and when they’re going to get food on the table. So for us it’s really about ensuring that we’re bringing in as much as possible and getting it on the tables of those families.”
The organization could use more canned goods, which they plan to get from food distributors. Donations can be made at feedingsouthflorida.org.