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Demand for free food increases in South Florida amid coronavirus pandemic

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – Thousands of people continued to line up on Thursday at temporary food distribution sites in South Florida during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank C. Ortis said drivers started to line up at 6 a.m. to receive free food at Memorial Park. Christina Sorensen, the director of the Pembroke Pines Recreation & Arts, said it was the first time they held an event during the pandemic there.

“It’s hot, but it has been nice and rewarding because the people are saying thank you,” Sorensen said adding they had enough for 1,000 drivers.

There were similar scenes at food distribution sites in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Camilo Diaz was among the drivers who were grateful to receive the groceries. He is among the millions who are suffering financially because of the mitigation strategies to save lives during the pandemic.

“We are a family of five and we all lost our jobs,” Diaz said.

William Rodriguez also thanked the volunteers profusely.

“In my household, we are four, so actually I am the only one working,” Rodriguez said.

Natalia Suarez had never been through anything like this before.

“My husband and me, we are on unemployment right now,” Suarez said. "As you can see we are four in this family. Whatever we can receive from the city its great help.”

Sorensen said the city is partnering with Feeding South Florida and officials are planning another event at the park.

About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.