MIAMI – Raul Nuñez said he lost his job and he doesn’t have any money to buy groceries for his family. Elvis Paniagua said he is waiting for a response to his application for unemployment benefits.
And like them, there were many more hotel and restaurant employees who are suffering through the coronavirus pandemic waiting at a food distribution site on Tuesday in Miami.
As the line got longer at 3250 SW 3rd Ave., near Coral Way, volunteers for the United Way of Miami and Feeding South Florida decided to start the food distribution event early.
Maria Alonso, the chief executive officer of United Way of Miami, said they were prepared with groceries for 100 families. The supply wasn’t enough. They were forced to close while drivers were still waiting outside. Alonso wasn’t surprised.
“We had over 524,000 households in Miami that were already struggling to make ends meet, living from paycheck to paycheck and on the edge of poverty,” Alonso said.
Alonso cited a United Way of Florida’s study released before the spread of COVID-19, a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. Epidemiologists’ mitigation strategies to save lives have shut down the tourism economy in South Florida.
Alonso said it was the first food distribution United Way of Miami held during the pandemic and it won’t be the last one.
The United Way is in need of volunteers and not all of them have to be brave enough to work at the food distribution events. Some can volunteer from home.
Here is a list of areas in Miami-Dade County with a high percentage of families estimated to be suffering from poverty:
Florida City: 84%
Leisure City: 76%
North Miami: 71%
North Miami Beach: 70%
Golden Glades: 70%
Miami: 70% - The city includes the areas of Little Haiti, Little Havana, Liberty City, Overtown and Allapattah.