Here’s how you can get food assistance during the coronavirus pandemic

Local food banks available to help

An entire section of meat and poultry is left empty after panicked shoppers swept through in fear of the coronavirus at a local grocery store in Burbank, Calif. on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Californians wanting to escape the new reality of the coronavirus at the movies, casino or amusement park are running into the six foot rule. State health officials issued new guidance Saturday urging theaters to keep attendance under 250 people and ask strangers to sit six feet apart. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel) (Richard Vogel, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Grocery shopping during the coronavirus pandemic has proven to be difficult for a few reasons, but local organizations are stepping up to ensure that those who need food won’t go without during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the outbreak began, local grocery stores have had problems keeping supplies on the shelves and have even been forced to close early in order to restock the essentials.

[Coronavirus: What supplies do you actually need? | Florida schools offer free meals to students during extended coronavirus closures]

The elderly and those with chronic conditions who are more at risk for contracting the respiratory illness are advised to avoid places with crowds, including local markets, so they reduce the chance of coming ill.

Then, there are hourly workers who’ve had their shifts cut as restaurants scale back their capacity and other hot spots such as Disney close entirely who now might be unable to afford necessary items.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday anyone in Florida who thinks they have coronavirus symptoms and wants to be tested should be able to after speaking with a doctor.

Local organizations recognize this need and are ready to help as much as possible.

The list below shows where Central Floridians can receive food assistance while our country tries to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Heart of Florida United Way has a list of 225 food pantries in the Central Florida area. Those in need of assistance can use United’s 2-1-1 feature to find help in the area by either dialing 211, texting their zip code to 898-211 or using the online chat feature.

Harvest Time International is providing food to those in quarantine. Hope centers are located in Sanford and Port Orange.

The Christian Sharing Center in Longwood is also providing meals to those who’ve been directed to self-isolate. To get help, call 407-260-9155 extension 1.

The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia has established a drive-thru food assistance program to help with the need in the community while still allowing for social distancing. The hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Second Harvest Food Bank is ready to provide meals thanks in part to a donation of salads, greens and hot items from Walt Disney World. The organization has an online assistance locator but it’s advised to call the location before arriving to make sure the hours or location hasn’t changed.

The Florida Department of Agriculture has activated its site to ensure that students don’t go hungry while classes remain out of session through the end of March. You can also click here to see what local school districts are doing.

Northern Goodness food truck, located at 1850 N. Orange Blossom Trail, is offering free food to children 17 and under this week from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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