ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando food pantry is praising a local mother and daughter for their efforts to help keep the site open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Candice Campbell is the coordinator for the Herald of Hope food pantry at the MetroWest Church of the Nazarene. She said she wasn't sure how she was going to keep the pantry open after the coronavirus outbreak.
"We knew that the work was going to continue. We just didn't know when," Campbell said.
According to officials with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, at the height of the pandemic, nearly 20% of its food pantries closed because many were unable to practice social distancing measures or staff enough volunteers.
"Most of our volunteers are seniors. So when the coronavirus outbreak started we had a lot of volunteers who were afraid to come out and help," Campbell said.
Campbell knew the food pantry's doors had to stay open because the community relied on the meals now more than ever. But she didn't know how it would work until she got a phone call.
“She was our Godsend, just at the right time. When we were just thinking how we are possibly going to do this, then I got a call from Mary Beth,” Campbell said.
Mary Beth Morgan is a member of the Board of Directors for Second Harvest. When she learned several food pantries were closing, she wanted to help.
Morgan worked with Campbell to find volunteers, get personal protective equipment for volunteers, and help turn the pantry into a mobile drive-thru.
“We brainstormed on different ideas on how we could stage things to keep volunteers safe, social distance, and get the food packed and handed out to the community,” Mary Beth Morgan said.
She enlisted her daughter, Brianna Morgan, to make signs in English, Spanish, and Creole so families could get the food they need.
"Multiple languages around the community. I wanted to make sure it wasn't only English," Brianna Morgan said.
With their help, the pantry is preparing for its second drive-thru this weekend. Volunteers spent several hours on Friday bagging enough food to serve 300 families.
“So many food pantries are in this predicament right now,” Mary Beth Morgan said. “The need is still there. The need is growing every day.”
Campbell said this wouldn't have happened without the Morgans.
"I couldn't have done this without her," Campbell said.
But the mother and daughter said they are just doing their part during these difficult times.
"People coming together and just stepping up and doing things they may normally wouldn't be doing," Mary Beth Morgan said.
The food pantry drive-thru is on Saturday, April 25 at 9:30 a.m. at the MetroWest Church of the Nazarene located at 3705 N. Apopka Vineland Rd. in Orlando.
The food pantry will hold drive-thru distributions every two weeks. Click here to find a food pantry near you.