Orlando pastor delivers food to those in need, sees demand rising

Cilphonose Salomon says the pandemic, inflation, rising gas prices all contributing to latest wave of financial insecurity

ORLANDO, Fla. – Cilphonose Salomon is a pastor at Eglise De Dieu D’operation De La Benediction. For two decades, he has donated food to those in need.

He packs a U-Haul truck with goods every week and takes it to the Park Promenade on Hiawassee Road.

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“It’s a blessing when God choosing somebody to help somebody who can’t help themself,” Salomon said.

He made multiple store runs Monday afternoon, packing bags to the brim with food.

“God put love on my heart to do it and I love to do it and I’m glad when I do it,” he said.

Salomon said he collects food items for free through a program with Food Donation Connection. The organization assists food service companies with the development and implementation of Harvest Programs designed to provide an alternative to discarding surplus food.

After gathering the food, he gets the items to community members all on his own. He has major concerns for people without a home.

“If you see somebody sleep in the street, that hurt your feeling because it’s a human being just like you,” Salomon said.

Homelessness is a growing problem in Central Florida. In June, the Coalition for the Homeless reported around 2,000 people experience homelessness in a single night in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.

Reports from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness show, as of January 2020, Florida sees 27,487 people experiencing homelessness.

Salomon said those experiencing homelessness are not the only ones that line up to receive food. He noticed his lines are getting longer by the day and believes the pandemic, inflation and rising gas prices are causing financial uncertainty in many households.

“It’s really difficult for them. They cannot make the good life they did before,” Salomon said. “That’s why we do (what) we (can to) help those families because whatever they have is not helping them to feed everybody in the house.”

The pastor has no church building right now and only holds online services. He hopes to secure a building to store the food he collects so he can share more than a truckload at a time.

Check out the Florida Foodie podcast. You can find every episode in the media player below:

About the Author:

Treasure joined News 6 at the start of 2021, coming to the Sunshine State from Michigan.