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Central Floridians wait in long lines at food distribution sites as inflation holds steady

Danielle Prieur
A distribution site at Conway First Baptist church feeds about 500 families.

Second Harvest says it continues to see an uptick in the need for food in Central Florida due to rising inflation and a persistent affordable housing crisis.

The food finder tool on Second Harvest’s website has already been used more than 6,750 times this year. That’s a 22 percent increase from the same time last year.

Danielle Prieur
People wait in line to pick up food. Some got to the church at 4 this morning.

The food bank works with 625 partners in the community to feed people who are struggling with food insecurity. One of those partners is Conway First Baptist Church.

Associate Pastor James Irvine said he opened a drive thru food distribution site in the parking lot of the church during COVID. But parishioners and community members just keep coming, almost three years later, as the price of food and gas continues to rise.

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Danielle Prieur
Volunteers set up food packs to distribute.

“You know, people think of Conway, and they think of middle class, okay, but the middle class is no longer the middle class," said Irvine. "It's lower middle. And so they're struggling, you know, paycheck to paycheck, so they need this food to get by.”

Irvine said the church feeds about 500 families at each event.

Danielle Prieur
Fresh fruits and vegetables are passed out.

“I mean, by the time you pay rent, by the time you pay utilities, there isn't a whole lot left over for food.”

Irvine says he partnered with Second Harvest to set up a food distribution event after getting about 15 to 20 calls a day for food from parishioners and local families. In a month, he estimates they pass out about 20 to 25,000 pounds of food.

Find the food drop off site nearest you.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.
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