FLORIDA CITY (CBS4) – A small South Florida operation with a big impact on hundreds of hungry families is running out of food but the lines of people waiting to receive food remain. The crowds come every week, turning to the Food of Life Ministries in Florida City, in a desperate pursuit to make ends meet.
Minister Wayne Oxford says some 4,000 people rely on the food pantry every month and Oxford told CBS4 earlier this month, “it’s down to the bottom of the barrel, the freezers have been empty for a month.”
With Florida’s unemployment rate at 10.7 percent — just above the national average — and nearly a million people without a job across the state, more and more Floridians are counting on resources and services to make it through a tough economy.
Every Wednesday is distribution day at the Food of Life Outreach Ministries but these days, only a small bag goes home with each family.
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.
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.