MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s been a year since the pandemic began, and major food distribution agencies are still scrambling to keep up with demand.
At Farm Share’s Homestead warehouse, CEO Stephen Shelley begins another day of food distribution.READ MORE: Shooting Investigation at Miami Gardens Gas Station
It’s the same for Paco Velez, the president and CEO of Feeding South Florida.
The day starts early, with three shifts a day sending food to distribution sites.
“We, Feeding South Florida and our sister food banks in America, have never seen anything like this,” said Velez.
A year into the pandemic, South Florida’s major food distribution agencies continue providing a lifeline.
“Even today we find that demand for food is up more than 60% year over year,” said Shelley.
A year of long lines at food distribution locations has been an ongoing theme in the pandemic saga.
It’s truly remarkable that so much food has been provided so many since March of 2020.READ MORE: Passing Asteroid Lights Up South Florida Sky
“What we saw in our first distribution when we took enough food for 700 families was we were 3,000 families worth of food short,” said Velez.
Feeding South Florida saw their distributions go from 700,000 boxes to 1.5 million during the midst of the pandemic. They, like Farm Share, had to up the process as donations dwindled due to hard economic times and the food need increased.
“At the peak of the pandemic, from March to July period, the demand increased by more than 600%,” said Shelley.
And during the year that has gone by, the makeup of who’re in those cars lined up for food has been mixed.
Yes, there were the traditionally food insecure clients. Then the newly unemployed, including thousands upon thousands as the cruise lines shut down and the tourism industry staggered, slowly grinding to a near halt.
“All of a sudden they could not put food on the table for their families and they showed up to our food distributions to get food,” said Shelley. “and never relying on a food bank in their lives, we became a critical life line for them.”
And that was the story all summer. Into fall and winter, as the pandemic economically gripped South Florida, Feeding South Florida was involved in 38 distributions a day.
“We have been working overtime, not observing holidays,” Velez said. “We have been making sure our families have food when they need it. This is why we do distributions same places, same time every single week.”MORE NEWS: Woman Fatally Shot By Police Serving Eviction At Brickell Building Identified As 40-Year-Old Stephanie Voikin