Second Harvest delivers millions of meals during pandemic while questions over funding loom

Food bank says latest relief package doesn’t include as much funding

Second Harvest delivers millions of meals during pandemic while questions over funding loom
Second Harvest delivers millions of meals during pandemic while questions over funding loom

ORLANDO, Fla. – The need for food assistance from food banks continues to grow almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic which is raising new concerns over how to keep the massive operation going.

Food goes out as quickly as it comes in at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida warehouse.

Greg Higgerson with Second Harvest said since the beginning of the pandemic, they have delivered thousands of meals a day to their partner food pantries.

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“We have more than doubled the number of meals going out the door since last March and have sustained at about 300,000 meals per day leaving our distribution facility,” Higgerson said.

Higgerson said he doesn’t see this slowing down anytime soon.

“The economic side is going to be with us for some time, even after we get the vaccine and other things in place,” he said.

This is bringing new concerns over how to keep the operation going.

“The relief package that’s coming includes a lot of money for food and for food commodities and food programs and heightened SNAP and some other things, which are great,” Higgerson said. “It won’t include necessarily the big dollars that came to us through the last time through the CARES funding, so that could be an issue.”

Higgerson said in 2020, Second Harvest received $8 million from Orange County and $300,000 from Osceola County. Those funds came from the CARES Act funds the counties received from the federal government. That money was required to be allocated by the end of 2020.

He said the second relief package doesn’t include that kind of funding and he doesn’t know how much support the food bank could get from local governments.

“I’m not sure how much that will be. It won’t be anywhere on the order that came through the cares act in 2020,” Higgerson said. “One of the things that made the CARES Act so impactful was the amount of dollars that came to local communities, local and state governments to help with things like testing and food provision and just basic needs. It doesn’t look like there’s going to be that kind of funding necessarily in this next round.”Higgerson said he is hopeful the new administration and Congress will include additional funds for food in future relief packages.

He adds the food bank is relying on the community to help them get results for the community.

“We are optimistic that those people who can help will continue to help,” Higgerson said.

Click here if you would like to donate to Second Harvest Food Bank. Higgerson said the food bank can turn every $1 donated into four meals.

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