ORLANDO, Florida. “In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, Central Florida organizations said people are still having a hard time getting back on their feet for a number of reasons.
Prior to the pandemic, Second Harvest Food Bank in Central Florida claimed to be handing out 150,000 meals a day.
This number has doubled during the pandemic. Corporate partnerships manager Maureen Mikel said the arrow hasn’t budged since.
“Unfortunately, after the pandemic, this need has consistently remained at about the same level with about 300,000 meals every day that we distribute,” Mikel said.
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Mikel said they hoped the number would decrease, but over the past year, the number of queries on the organization’s online food search tool has increased. In June 2022, 7,100 searches were completed using the food search tool. In June 2023, that number jumped 36% to 9,721.
“We are seeing a surge in this due to the rising cost of just about everything – inflation, the lack of affordable housing combined with this heat wave right now, you know, utility bills are out of control,” Mikel said.
However, Second Harvest is not alone in this struggle. Light Orlando is also helping to feed families by partnering with US Hunger to package 500,000 meals to be distributed to charities that feed families across Central Florida.
“We’re seeing a lot more people that you didn’t think would be struggling with all sorts of food insecurity due to the housing market, interest rate inflation and stuff,” said Troy Wright, Light Orlando Program Officer.
Wright said that with the help of 1,400 volunteers, packing 500,000 meals will be one of their biggest undertakings. They’ll pack these meals at the Central Florida Fair on August 12th.
“Those things that we usually argue about are those things that will probably make us not be friends or not hang out on Friday night, they suddenly disappear, and we are all here for the same purpose,” Wright said. “And that goal is to serve the community and give back. So it’s really just joining arms and joining forces for the common good.”
If you need food assistance, click here. If you’d like to sign up to volunteer for the Light Orlando Food Packaging event, click here.
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