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A mobile food drop in Groveland as COVID-19 ‘food cliff’ nears for many families

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Frosty weather did not deter more than 30 volunteers at a Second Harvest mobile food drop at Hope International Church in Groveland Wednesday morning. Photo: Joe Byrnes

It’s a daily occurrence in Central Florida, a Second Harvest food drop with scores of cars queued up and volunteers putting bags and boxes in their open trunks.

At the event in south Lake County Wednesday morning, hundreds were struggling to feed their families. Organizers said it’s important that federal aid continue.

Trish Kry of Groveland’s FAITH Neighborhood Center was coordinating things at Hope International Church for the WESH 2-sponsored event.

“When I got here at 5 a.m. we had people waiting,” she said, “because they’re anxious. They’re anxious. They don’t want us to run out of food before they get through the line.”

Debra Smith was there to get food for her financially strapped family and for a friend with disabled children. Smith said she volunteers at a food bank and sees families that are suddenly homeless.

“They’ve lost everything over this pandemic,” Smith said. “It’s devastating to people. And I don’t think people are aware of how bad it is.”

Second Harvest has seen its demand double. At this drop, they’re giving two weeks of food to about 800 families.

It will help make up for the Farmers to Families food boxes many are not receiving any more.

Spanish Pastor Jorge Mulet says that — for months during the pandemic — the church provided food boxes to more than 200 families. But that COVID-19 relief ended about two weeks ago.

“Many of these families,” he said, “they told me, ‘George, I need food for my kids. My kids are hungry.’ And this, it breaks my heart. I put on Facebook last week, ‘It breaks my heart but we don’t have food for you, unfortunately.’”

The program’s shortfall is being felt throughout Central Florida at churches and nonprofits that help families hurt by the pandemic.

And Second Harvest is very concerned about the effects of “the food cliff” at the beginning of next year without new federal funding.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.