What happens to the food giveaways when the harvest ends?

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – Day after day, free meal distributions are helping families in need through the coronavirus pandemic.

But the food won’t last forever.

“Our fear is, once harvest season is over in the next couple of months, we’re not going to have these great items, like green beans, the tomatoes you see behind me,” says Paco Velez, CEO of Feeding South Florida. “Squash, zucchini. All the wonderful things that South Florida grows — we’re going to start running low.”

Velez says the organization’s supply of nonperishables is already dwindling.

“We’re running short on peanut butter, we’re running short on canned tuna, canned chicken,” he says. “A lot of the canned vegetables and canned fruits and especially some of the soups — we’re running short on all these supplies.”

Likewise, Farm Share says it will continue the distributions as long as there are supplies.

“As long as we keep receiving donations and as long as the food comes in, we will continue to put out to communities,” says Luis Dickson, a Farm Share Community distribution coordinator.

Growers, manufacturers, distributors and growers can assist by donating food items. The public can help with financial donations. (More information at the bottom of this story.)

Velez says Feeding South Florida has become a 24-hour operation and has seen its distribution triple the past couple weeks.

Food comes in — much of it from local farmers and growers — and workers get it out as soon as possible to more than 250 charities. On Tuesday, it was Broward Sheriff Office deputies loading up meals and delivering them to nearly two dozen seniors in need.

“It’s more than necessary,” says Florence Bertram, 71, of Pompano Beach.

Bertram worked as a receptionist at a local resort until she was laid off a week ago. She says she made her March mortgage payment, but April’s is up in the air.

On Wednesday, Farm Share partnered with the Rotary Club of Homestead to distribute 200 baskets of food with gift certificates to restaurant employees who lost their jobs.

“Since they are not working, they are not generating any income. And if they are not generating income they are not able to buy food,” says Phil Marraccini of the rotary club.

The hope is that the help will keep coming for so many people in need.

“There are a lot of families that are hurting. A lot of families that are desperate and scared,” Velez says. “It’s not OK if Feeding South Florida runs out food, because families are truly relying on us to meet the entirety of their needs.”







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