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Food Insecurity Worsens As Pandemic Intensifies

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Farm Share held a food distribution event at Fort McCoy in Marion County in June. The non profit is holding a drive through food distribution event in Holden Heights on Saturday. Photo: Joe Byrnes, WMFE

As the pandemic intensifies, so does the need for food banks. Farm Share’s Matthew Galen says the North Florida warehouse he works out of has increased the amount of food it’s distribution by 500 per cent. 

This weekend Farm Share will hold a drive through distribution event in Holden Heights, Orlando. 

Matthew Galen, who is the facilities manager of Farm Share of North East Florida, and Yvette Shelton-Edmonds, manager of the Holden Heights Community Center join Intersection for  a conversation about why events like these are being held more frequently. 

“The need is tremendous,” said  Shelton-Edmonds.

“We typically do food distributions on a regular basis, and with COVID-19 we have a lot of people who work in the hotel industry and in the entertainment and amusement parks and they are no longer working. Therefore they can’t pay their bills or meet their needs and need assistance with food.”

Galen said the pandemic has created a surge in demand for food.

“We went from being a packing house that sends out about close to 1 million pounds a month to, in June we sent out over 5 million pounds. So the increase is huge,” said Galen.

Galen said he’s worried about the impact of the $600 weekly unemployment benefit from the Federal government going away at the end of the month.

“People are needing to retain all those funds, and obviously they’re going to lose them, unless something happens between now and then. And then the demand is just going to skyrocket.”

Shelton-Edmonds said she’s noticed an increase in the number of seniors turning to the community center for help with groceries and other necessities.

“That’s because they were depending on relatives and family members to provide support. And those relatives can no longer provide us support, so we’re seeing a tremendous amount of seniors in need of services.”

Galen said people from all walks of life come to Farm Share’s distribution events. He said asking for help to put food on the table can be “one of the hardest things for people to do, especially when they’ve been providing for themselves and their families their entire lives, and now they’re experiencing something brand new. It’s a pride issue.”


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About Matthew Peddie

Matt Peddie