ORLANDO, Fla. – The new Mercy Kitchen in Orlando was funded through federal CARES Act dollars. Executives with Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, the nonprofit running the production kitchen, says they’re going to use the facility to help more families in need.
“With the pandemic that’s hit, and all other need(s) that exists from the community, we really needed more capacity to put those meals together,” said Chief Development Officer Greg Higgerson.
The Mercy Kitchen in Orlando has a capacity to produce up to 50,000 meals a day. At the height of the pandemic, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida distributed about 300,000 meals a day through its other facilities.
“That’s really a staggering number. That means 300,000 plus individuals here within our region had inadequate food to sustain themselves. As a community, we wanted public-private partnerships to uplift our community and allow us to sustain ourselves through the pandemic,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.
Orange County delegated $8M of its CARES Act funding to Second Harvest Food Bank. Nearly $700,000 of that going towards opening the Mercy Kitchen.
It wasn’t a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the new space, but an unboxing of the different packages Second Harvest Food Bank provides to children and families. Including hot and cold meal-kits for families, boxes packed with non-perishable food items and fresh fruit and veggies.
Of course, it’s the volunteers like Scott Chemidlin, who keep things rolling.
“If people don’t have to focus on where their next meal is coming from, they can focus on other things that’s more important to support and take care of their family,” said Chemidlin.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is a nonprofit organization. Meals are packed and distributed to its more than 550 feeding partners in six Central Florida counties including Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola Seminole and Volusia.