With more people utilizing government assistance amid pandemic, grocery stores brace for rush of shoppers

First of month expected to bring more shoppers utilizing government assistance

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Wednesday is the first of the month, when people who depend on government assistance like WIC or SNAP, start receiving money for food.

After seeing a surge of people filing for unemployment all across the country, quite a few people are expected to head to grocery stores, especially since children have been learning from home, which can contribute to depleted food supplies.

In between the rush of people and wiping down equipment, Daniesha Torres and the others at Pine Hills Food Center on Silver Star Road are restocking the shelves as fast as they can.

"We've been busy," Torres said. "We start filling out the shelves every hour we can fill it out, but sometimes the line outside is full. Tomorrow is going to be super busy."

WIC is a federally funded nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children that meet the eligibility requirements. WIC provides the following at no cost: healthy foods, nutrition education and counseling, breastfeeding support, and referrals for health care and community services.

SNAP provides food benefits, access to a healthy diet and education on food preparation and nutrition to low-income households

Experts expect more people to lean on these resources as there’s been an uptick in furloughed employees and unemployment.

In Florida, more than 228,000 applications were filed last week for unemployment. Jim and Debbie Crum plan to add themselves to that list when they plan on filing for unemployment and food assistance later today.

[INFOGRAM: Number of unemployment claims filed in Florida]

"We've been laid off for two weeks," Jim Crum said. "We'll have to [sign up.] We have to eat."

Officials with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County told News 6 there are five WIC offices that will remain open to process new registrations and provide other benefits.

Those five offices that remain open are:

Apopka office, 1111 N. Rock Springs Road, Apopka, FL 32712

Central office, 901 W. Church Street, Orlando, FL 32805

Hoffner office, 5449 S. Semoran Boulevard, Orlando, 32822

Southside office, 6101 Lake Ellenor Drive, Orlando, FL 32809

Westside office, 6218 West Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32808

To learn more about the Florida Food Assistance program, click here. To enroll in food assistance, click here

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