APOPKA, Fla. – Hundreds of families struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic lined up at Apopka High School Saturday morning to receive free meals.
A rainy start to the day couldn’t drive away families, like Jonnie Garrison. He was beaming with gratitude.
“A blessing, a blessing, a blessing. I’ll be glad to eat food tonight and sit at the table with my neighbors and have a good meal,” Garrison said.
State Senator Randolph Bracy and Apopka High School’s PTSA teamed up with Farm Share to hold the event. They gave away hundreds of pounds of food.
Charlean Gatlin, one of the organizers of the event, said they were helping 500 families.
“Each time that we come out we see these lines stretch as far as you can for individuals who are just trying to get assistance or trying to get food for their families to put on their tables,” Gatlin said.
The need is growing more and more each day as families struggle to make ends meet almost a year into the pandemic.
Tre Wade, Apopka High School’s PTSA president, said the community is hurting.
“We have so many parents that unfortunately due to COVID-19 have lost their jobs, their income, if not both incomes, at least one income and our community really needs it,” Wade said.
Some help is on the way. This week President Biden took executive action aimed at providing financial relief. The orders do not provide immediate assistance to food banks, but rather direct relief to families in need.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida said 829,000 Central Florida families that use SNAP food stamps are expected to see increases in their benefits.
“The need is tremendous and its overwhelming to see our community hurting the way that they are at this time,” Gatlin said.
Families, like Nalinie Sewpersaud, said they are thankful for the food giveaway.
“Every little thing count because you don’t work, no money, no groceries in the house, so everything right now is value. Whatever you have is very value,” Sewpersaud said.