FLORIDA CITY (CBS4) — A small operation with a big impact on hundreds of hungry families is running out of food.
“As you can see, it’s down to the bottom of the barrel, these freezers have been empty for a month,” explained Wayne Oxford of Food of Life Outreach Ministries.
Every Wednesday is distribution day at the Food of Life Outreach Ministries in Florida City but these days, only a small bag goes home with each family.
“Usually we would get chicken and maybe pork, patties, hams – but we haven’t gotten any,” said Cynthia Everett, who receives food. “As you can see, those shelves are empty.”
It wasn’t always this way, but state budget cuts have deeply impacted their inventory, even shut down other local food pantries, which has resulted in more families to feed but less food to give them.
“When Farm Share closed their doors, we had to absorb those people, which has put a strain on us,” said Oxford.
Now they’re reaching out to the community for help to continue feeding the hungry of South Dade. They’ve put their donated van on the road to pick up food.
“If people want to donate large quantities of food, you can go pick it up. Without a doubt, all they have to do is call us,” said Oxford.
The pantry also runs a low cost thrift shop to provide clothes and furniture to families that need them for small donations.
“We give away more stuff then what we take in money for, so we’re constantly in need of clothes, furniture, refrigerators, beds because times are tough.”
Donors and non-profit partners, like Neighbors 4 Neighbors, have tried to fill the gaps.
For those that come here, however, it’s more than just food and furniture, it’s about friendship.
“It’s great, you forget that you’re in much need when you come in, everybody’s in the same situation so you become family and it’s a great feeling,” touted David Cruz.
According to Feeding South Florida, which supplies 800 of the region’s food banks, soup kitchens and assisted living facilities, South Florida saw a 39-percent increase in the number of people in need of food in the past two years.
Nearly 1 million South Floridians now tap local food banks each year. If you’d like to help, click here for the Food of Life Outreach Ministries Web site or call Neighbors 4 Neighbors at (305) 597-4404.