By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As federal and state aid runs out and Congress continues its stalemate on a stimulus package, food giveaways, and gift-card distributions are becoming true lifelines for the unemployed and less fortunate in South Florida.

Even with the vaccine on the horizon, economists say it will be many months before some folks go back to work. And if they do, it might be for fewer dollars and fewer benefits. So for now, and in the near future, food giveaways are important.

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Tony Armstead with the City of Miramar says, “They are struggling financially. Their food is at a low right now and unfortunately, even before COVID, we saw this line coming through. Now, that COVID is here the lines go around the block.”

“We have lentils, garbanzo beans, chicken, apples, that is pretty much it today,” Armstead said.

Images from Chopper4 in Broward show a different kind of distribution: Two hundred and fifty dollar gift cards from Broward Meat and Fish and Publix supermarket.

Like many charity organizations, cash or gift cards work well. No need for a cumbersome set up of traditional food distribution.

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In Little Haiti, 150 residents received Publix gift cards.

“We had worked with Publix before. They were very efficient in terms of getting us the cards. Flexible in terms of payment,” said William Corro, with the City of Miami.

The cards were not passed out randomly.

“The requirements of the program are simple, they have to be City of Miami residents and one card per household,” said Corro.

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He says there is a great need, never enough resources. “We are doing our best.”