Orange County food pantry helps families, seniors make ends meet

Angel Coleman feeds her neighbors by organizing a weekly food pantry at Faith United Methodist

Angel Coleman organizes a weekly food pantry at Faith United Methodist Church on Dean Road in east Orange County.

Orlando, Fl. – At the height of the COVID pandemic, food pantries helped so many families make ends meet.

Today, they’re still filling that need.

But this week’s Getting Results Award winner said she’s seeing a growing number of seniors who are finding themselves in line too.

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Angel Coleman organizes a weekly food pantry at Faith United Methodist Church on Dean Road in east Orange County. Every Thursday, a line of people stretch out into the parking lot. Some of them bring carts to help them carry items back to their cars.

“They’re out here in the summer heat and rain to get food. It’s amazing for them to be able to get it, but it’s more of a blessing for us to be able to provide it,” Coleman said as she tried to find shade under a covered walkway.

Coleman said the food pantry has been in operation for years, but the need increased during the height of the pandemic. The number of meals provided has continued to increase.

“I think it’s the inflation. Families are struggling, they’re trying to make the dollar stretch. You have gas prices, everything is increasing,” Coleman said. “Families just can’t do that.”

But it’s not just families. Coleman says she’s seeing more and more seniors coming through.

Nora Brendel, 72, lives nearby in a 55 and up community. She was picking up food for her neighbors. Brendel said the cost of living is weighing on them.

“Yeah, the bills keep going up. Everybody has increases of every sort. It makes them uneasy. You know, it’s hard,” she said.

Brendel said she’s thinking of making soup with the fresh vegetables she’s picked out. She says it’s a good way to make the peppers, onions and other items stretch.

“Well, the inflation has made a huge impact with the increase in milk, eggs, dairy, gas,” Coleman said. “It’s a huge thing and the amount of seniors that we’re seeing.”

Coleman was nominated for the News 6 Getting Results Award by pantry volunteer, Fenna Owens. “I felt so moved to nominate her because of the great work she does,” Owens said. “And she’s so humble about it.”

Coleman said plans are under way to expand the food storage so she can help even more families moving forward. As a result, the church has had to put their kids summer camp on hold because of the lack of space.

“To be able to help and serve. This warms my heart,” Coleman said as she served families making their way through the church nave. “To be able to provide food and take some of the burden off families. This is what makes me happy.”

About the Author:

Paul is a Florida native who graduated from the University of Central Florida. As a multimedia journalist, Paul enjoys profiling the people and places that make Central Florida unique.