Annual CAMACOL giveaway helps hundreds in Little Havana

MIAMI – It’s an annual tradition in South Florida.

The Latin Chamber of Commerce, or CAMACOL for short, held its 37th annual holiday food basket giveaway Wednesday, handing out 700 bags of groceries to families in need in Little Havana.

“I’m going to prepare a real nice meal for my family,” Miami resident Juanita Alvarez said. “All of us, we’re going to get together for that.”

For the 16th straight year, Alvarez was first in line, having saved her spot since 8 a.m. Tuesday.

This year’s handout was higher than last year’s, when only 500 bags were given away. But it’s still lower than the 3,000 bags distributed before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know that even though our economy is recovering, it’s not so for everybody,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said. “The cost of living has gone up, up, up. The cost of items has gone up, and our salaries have not kept pace.”

Lingering inflation is not only impacting families, but also the companies who come out every year, to try and give back.

“There’s a lot of smaller companies that are not here this year, they couldn’t make it,” Pedro Mesa, with Sedano’s Supermarkets, said. “They’re barely surviving. So this year, obviously it’s a different year in that sense.”

Organizers are hoping to help even more families next year.

About the Author:

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.