MARION COUNTY, Fla. – Many of us have gone to the store to buy things we need, but never really think about how they get to the shelves. Freight drivers have been working to deliver the essential items customers need. Local agencies are partnering with stores and restaurants to do their part to show their appreciation.
Rolling into the Marion County rest stop along Interstate 75, truckers were met with ‘thank you’ signs. Tables were set up and free lunches from Chick-fil-A, Publix, and Walmart were delivered to the unsung heroes.
"We clearly wanted to recognize the trucking industry, they've been doing a great job bringing goods to market," said FDOT Secretary of Transportation Kevin Thibault. "People take a lot of things for granted about how those goods get to market, or how they get to their house."
It was all part of a collaboration between the Florida Trucking Association, FDOT, FHP, and other community partners. They said it’s been up and down in the freight industry lately; business slows for tankers because of the low demand for gas, but busy for truckers delivering essential medical supplies and food.
Hundreds of truck drivers showed up to the rest stop in Marion County. Many said they don’t feel appreciated for the work they are doing, keeping shelves stocked at local stores.
"I hate to say this, but it took this pandemic for people to appreciate us... I hope the appreciation continues when this is over," said Victor Buie, a truck driver from Illinois.
“It is dangerous, but at the end of the day, somebody’s got to do it. We have to put food on the table, not only for ourselves but for the greater masses of people,” said truck driver, Julio Julio from Canada.
Some truckers are calling for more consideration on the highways to make their jobs safer.
"People think it's a joke to cut in front of us. At 80,000 pounds, we don't stop at a dime. It takes about three to four football fields for us to stop," said Jeffrey Maloy.
The truckers were grateful for their meals and the group hopes to plan more events like this in the future.