Clermont food drives feel impact as government program scales back

USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program cuts budget in half heading into holidays

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – As we get closer to the holidays, some are noticing fewer food giveaways in the community, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues and many are still without work.

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Hundreds came out to Clermont Wednesday as part of a giveaway organized by the Lady Storm Foundation, using food provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Farmers to Families Food Box Program.”

Lily Storm founded the Lady Storm Foundation, which aims to serve the needs of those that need it most. Storm told News 6 she tried to set up more food drives leading up to the holidays but ran into layers of uncertainty surrounding food program distributors.

“When I contact some of the organizations donating food, that’s what I’m getting, ‘We don’t have the funding. we’re short-staffed, we’re not sure when it’s going to happen,’” she explained.

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the program began during the pandemic with a budget of $1.2 billion for six weeks beginning in mid-May. Now, it’s budgeted this holiday season for $500 million for November and December.

Lillie Green doesn’t visit every food drive but made sure she arrived early to this one.

“It is a lot harder out there,” Green added. “There’s not as many [food giveaways] as there used to be. I’m living on a budget, and my budget is getting slim. Christmas is not going to happen in my house this year. Can’t afford it.

“The supply of food is not there, but the demand is always there,” Storm said. “and I think it’s going to be there for a long time.”

To learn more about the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program, click here.

About the Author:

It has been an absolute pleasure for Clay LePard living and working in Orlando since he joined News 6 in July 2017. Previously, Clay worked at WNEP TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he brought viewers along to witness everything from unprecedented access to the Tobyhanna Army Depot to an interview with convicted double-murderer Hugo Selenski.