Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez held a press conference Saturday to announce a new funding model for food distribution that would help local farmers distribute their produce in South Florida.
"You might have heard about local farmers being forced to plow their crops back into the ground, this was a tragedy not only for them but also for residents who are now having a tough time finding fresh food during the coronavirus outbreak,” Gimenez said, announcing that the county would allocate an additional $900,000 for local food banks to buy produce.
“This will help local food distribution organizations such as farm share to buy and distribute produce grown here in Miami Dade to those in need," the mayor explained.
Gimenez noted that since residents have been buying fewer perishables throughout the outbreak and restaurants have largely shut down operations, local consumption of produce has decreased, and South Florida farmers have lost more than half of their customer base.
"We want to make sure these crops make it from the farmers' fields to residents' tables," Gimenez said, noting that local farmers have already donated more than a million pounds of produce.
"I'd like to commend local farmers for their dedication and outright generosity during this time."
Gimenez also urged residents to turn to the local agriculture community to buy produce, not only to help out farmers but also as a means of staying healthy while in quarantine.
Sam Accursio, president of Sam S. Accursio & Sons Farms, added that "the demand is consumer driven. If the consumers say we want fresh produce from Florida while they are in season, the market will quit bringing [foreign produce] in.”
"With so much food, they are selling items like cucumbers and tomatos for 10 dollars a box," Accursio said. His farm is located at 1225 Northwest Second Street in Homestead, and the farm will announce the next time customers can go buy produce there.
Food distribution has been taking place every week across South Florida as thousands face layoffs and economic instability in light of the coronavirus outbreak. The organization Feeding South Florida said that in the last 4 weeks, it's given out more than 10.5 million pounds of food.
Here is a list of food distribution sites that were scheduled for Saturday, April 18:
- Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez partnered with FoodShare to set up a drive-thru food distribution site at Vann Academy (400 NW 112th Ave, Miami, FL 33172)
- FarmShare will also host food distributions in South Miami at the Gibson Bethel Community Center (5800 SW 66th St, South Miami, FL 33143) and the Miami Executive Airport (12800 SW 145th Ave, Miami, FL 33186)
- A free grocery distribution for students who signed up for the community Youth Against Violence Club will take place at the Faith Tabernacle Baptist Church (2167 NW 64th St, Miami, FL 33147)
- *To receive food at all of these sites, you must be in your car and remain inside at all times.