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Orange County Food Banks See Rise in Demand After Theme Parks Close

Photo: Anna Pelzer @annapelzer

Food banks in Orange County are noticing longer lines as fears over the coronavirus begin to slow the economy.

Second Harvest Chief Development Officer Greg Higgerson says the growing demand reminds him of the time after the 9/11 terrorist attacks or 2008 economic collapse when there were massive layoffs in Orange County.

Higgerson says they’re hearing stories like they did then about workers being laid off or having their hours cut after Disney World, Universal, and now SeaWorld have closed for the rest of March.

He says he’s not worried about running out of food with local partners and the national Feeding America providing donations. But he says social distancing could complicate the distribution of these meals. 

“So, we’re talking through scenarios like mobile drops where we bring the food out to open areas and people come and get it there maybe without getting out of their vehicles. Things like that.”

Higgerson says Second Harvest is also getting ready to provide meals for children should the coronavirus prompt schools to close. 

“We on our hand would probably just have to continue to work through our network of partner agencies. There would be a very big increase in the visits to emergency food pantries and other emergency food sources across the community.”

Food banks are seeking monetary donations as food dropped off by unknown sources could be contaminated with the virus.

The House voted on “The Families First Coronavirus Response Act” today which would release additional SNAP benefits to families with children who rely on school free and reduced lunch programs for breakfasts and lunches.

To find a food bank near you, click on the link.

If you’d like to listen to the story, click on the clip above.

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Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

Reporter & Fill-in Host

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, ... Read Full Bio »