By Lauren Pastrana

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Time is running out to make sure you and your family count in the 2020 census.

The city of Fort Lauderdale is getting creative in hopes of raising what it calls a “critically low” count by having census takers talking to people at its weekly COVID-19 food drive.

“When the cars line up in the morning here – as early as 5:30 in the morning – we’ve had enumerators going car to car asking if they’ve completed their census,” explained Monique Damiano with the city of Fort Lauderdale. “And if they haven’t, we’re able to catch it right on the spot.”

Nearly 50 enumerators, better known as census takers, were on hand and in proper protective gear at the weekly COVID-19 drive-thru food distribution at Mills Pond Park.

They looked TO make sure residents waiting in line had in fact filled out their census.

“We are at a critical time. We’ve lost our ability to do face-to-face events due to the COVID-19 pandemic so every single count we get matters,” said Damiano.

It matters because the census count, which ends at the end of this month, determines how much federal funding will be distributed to state and local governments.  It also determines how much representation a state gets in congress.

Right now, the count in much of South Florida is at a critical low.

In Fort Lauderdale, it’s just over 54%.

“This funding is used to build hospitals, to create community centers and to guide food nutrition programs like we have here today,” said Damiano.

The city did see success with its plan.

“Today, we were able to capture at least 120 census responses to help raise the count,” said Damiano.

Now it wants to see everyone else in Broward’s largest city do its part. And while this is one city sending a message, it’s one that applies to everyone who lives and works here.

“I encourage everyone, if you have not done so, please go to, call 844-330-2020 or mail back your form,” said Damiano.

It’s critical that you complete your census to help the city, your state, county and your country raise the count.

The city is talking about making this a regular thing at this food drive hosted by the cities of Fort Lauderdale, Oakland Park and Wilton Manors.

They said they are talking to the U.S. Census Bureau about making that happen.

In the meantime, you have until September 30th to fill out your census and to make sure everyone counts. Click here to respond to the 2020 census.

Lauren Pastrana