By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – While food distributions may be out of the daily headlines, they are a continued way of life for many in Miami-Dade and Broward.

Each week, thousands of people line up for a box that can tide them over until the next distribution.

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“That’s where we are today, which is still substantially elevated compared to the same time last year, a 60 percent increase overall,” said Stephen Shelley, President and CEO of Farm Share.

Last year at this time, the coronavirus had not really impacted the state. In the months to come, however, the stay-at-home orders and shutdowns came, forcing the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of workers and the temporary closure of businesses.

“At the end of the year, the case counts went up and people stopped going out again and businesses started to collapse, that is when you saw the second peak,” said Shelley.

The lines have eased up a bit as money from the $900 billion pandemic relief bill now flows to those who are out of work who will receive a weekly $300 federal enhancement benefit through March 14th.

Shelley said they see first hand how the economy is unraveling locally from observing who is in line.

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“You have a lot of small business owners who survived as long as they could. They ultimately had to shut down. So not only are they unemployed, so are all their employees,” he said.

There have also been hiccups in the food distribution supply chain. Some workers who prepare boxes have chosen to stay home, and stay safe, and receive the government checks which often are larger than what they made at work. The lines are also impacted by seniors who afraid to go to supermarkets. They avoid potential exposure by having a box of food placed in their car.

“The unique thing about the pandemic is that it is not your typical low-income families, ones you would normally expect to be in the food lines. It is your next-door neighbor, it is the senior down the street,” said Shelley.

If you would like to donate to help Farm Share continue its important work, Click Here.

Anyone interested in the next Farm Share distribution can Click Here for a calendar of locations and times.

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Feeding South Florida also conducts daily food distributions. Click Here for where and when they will be in your area.