MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Hundreds of people waited hours in Little Haiti on Friday morning for free Publix gift cards each worth $250.
“I am not working. I am disabled,” said Pierre Casseos who slept outside the Little Haiti Soccer Park at 6301 Northeast 22nd Avenue to make sure he’d be the first one in line Friday. “The disability I have is not enough to take care of myself and my family.”
The grocery store gift cards were handed out by Commissioner Jeffrey Watson and the City of Miami. More than 200 cards were distributed to Miami residents in need on Friday.
“There’s obviously a demand. We don’t have enough supply,” said Watson.
The demand and need for food amid the coronavirus pandemic has stretched across South Florida. On Tuesday in Coconut Grove, there were more people than there were Publix gift cards. Many people were turned away after waiting hours when supplies ran out at Regatta Park.
“It’s sad to see how much need there is,” said Mayor Francis Suarez on Tuesday. “To see that the need is so much more than our ability to give.”
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In an October release (), Feeding America said the number of food insecure Americans in 2020 could rise to 50 million people.
“I wish I had a lot more money that I could just go down the line and they could go back home,” said Watson. “But I don’t. None of us do.”
Funding for the Publix gift cards handed out by the city comes from the CARES Act, they are handed out on a first come first serve basis. In order to qualify for a card, you must live within city limits and sign a form saying you have experienced hardship and food insecurity due to COVID-19. Click here to find out about future card distributions.