By Peter D'Oench

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — For many people across South Florida still out of work, it can be a struggle to put a meal on the table for their families, but food drives are helping those in need including a Farm Share food distribution held in Miami Friday morning where the need was obvious.

It was a non-stop effort since the food distribution line opened at 10:00 a.m. Friday. Some people lined up as early as 3:00 a.m., seven hours early at the distribution at NW 24th Avenue and 19th Street.

Farm Share organizers say the demand is higher than ever.

Farm Share Chief Executive Officer Stephen Shelley told CBS4’S Peter D’Oench that his organization gave away two million pounds of food in March.

“The demand is something like we have seen before. We have been involved with natural disasters and hurricanes. But we have never seen demand like this where every county and every region in the state of Florida wants food and wants it at the same time. We are struggling to keep up with demand. It is a shocking amount of demand. These are really tough times. The demand is unprecedented.”

Shelley said “Statewide since the pandemic started we have been involved with 300 food distributions and food drops with our 2,000 partners and agencies statewide.

Here in South Florida, we have done about three to four a day and that is Monday through Saturday. So you can do the math. We have been doing this 9 weeks as of today. We have been serving all 67 counties in Florida.”

“We have a need for donations,” he said. “That is right now the best way you can help us. To find out more, you can go to our website WWW.FarmShare.Org.”

Some of the food handed out Friday morning included cheese, bread, juice, apples, raisins, pot roast and canned goods.

Ana Maria Vargas was near the head of the line.

“I don’t have work and I am a single mom. My son is hungry. I don’t have a job and I don’t have anything,” she explained.

Life, she says, is very difficult.

“I need like chicken, meat, fruit, whatever they could give to me I would appreciate that.”

So do so many here.

Maria Pardo was there at 6:30 in the morning.

“It’s a good thing trying to help these people. We need it’s a lot of people,” said Pardo. “I have some provisions. That’s the reason I haven’t come for a month but now it’s getting worse.”

Patience paid off for Ana Maria Vargas after receiving some of her food from Miami-Dade Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla.

“This is a serious issue. There is a lot of demand. This part of Miami, a lot of people are suffering. People are hurting so we are trying to help this is one grain of sand and we are distributing to 500 families with supplements to make their lives easier,” said de la Portilla.

“One of the zip codes where we have seen the impact of what is happening is right here with the loss of jobs and people have less income. It is difficult to put food on the table,” explained Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban ‘Steve’ Bovo Jr.

Lately, demand has risen dramatically.

“Recently we have seen the demand has multiplied exponentially and we have always had a high demand because of the pandemic but now our demand has risen through the roof,” said Luis Dixon of Farm Share.

At least now, Ana Maria Vargas will have less to worry about, for now.

“This is the best thing they can do for our families. God bless the City of Miami,” said Vargas.

At least 500 families were helped at this Farm Share location on Friday.

Peter D'Oench

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