ORLANDO, Fla. – According to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, hunger is an ongoing issue for thousands of people across Central Florida. On Giving Tuesday, charities like Second Harvest Food Bank in Orange County, and The Sharing Center in Seminole County are hoping the community will pay it forward and help those less fortunate families.
“In Central Florida, we have right now one in five kids at a great risk of going to bed hungry every night,” said Greg Higgerson, chief development officer for Second Harvest Food Bank. “We know that we’re putting enough food out the door right now for 250,000 meals a day. We’re still not fully meeting that need that’s out there.”
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The Sharing Center in Longwood offers a food pantry, a rental assistance program and services for the homeless population.
“Giving Tuesday is not just important to the Sharing Center, but to all the nonprofits in our community. I just encourage everyone to find one thing that they’re passionate about and get involved,” said Nina Yon, president and CEO of the nonprofit. “Whether it’s a philanthropy, a financial giving or volunteering their time or talent, we really depend heavily on the community coming together to support those in need.”
Yon told News 6 that in the past year and a half, the number of homeless people accessing their Oasis department went up. The Oasis is a drop-in center that provides showers, laundry service and food to the homeless.
“That department experienced a 37% usage increase over the COVID months and so that’s why the board decided to expand Oasis department,” Yon said.
The Sharing Center said it expects to expand the size of that department in May 2022, converting three empty spaces into one with 3,600 square feet, and continue providing services like showers, haircuts and laundry services for the homeless.
“It’s the only place where any homeless individual coming from Volusia, in Seminole or even Orange County, if they can get to The Oasis they will have access to a hot breakfast, access to a shower facility, our volunteer would do the laundry for our homeless clients,” Yon said. “We’re hoping with the new facility doubling the amount of shower stalls, it’ll cut down the wait time and also allow us to proactively do outreach.”
Yon said their outreach will be done with a new bus provided to the nonprofit with funds from Seminole County.
“We’re going to go to the wooded areas and the homeless camps and pick up the homeless individuals that don’t have transportation,” Yon said, “Bring them to the new Oasis, provide the shower facility, a hot meal, case management, access to mental health counseling if they need it.”
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