DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Five months into the pandemic and The City of Delray Beach hasn't seen a drop off of families in need of meals.
"Every Wednesday Feed South Florida meets our volunteers and Parks and Recreation staff at Catherine Strong Park where they feed anywhere from 600 to 750 families," Delray Beach Vice Mayor Ryan Boylston said.
Boylston said when the pandemic first hit a number of churches, non-profits and volunteers were giving out food. As time went on, their focus changed leaving a critical void.
"So as everybody knows there's a need for food. But what people don't know is that there's a need for distribution of that food. And that's why we're so lucky to have a partnership with Feeding South Florida because they not only bring the food but they assist with the distribution of the food," he said.
Feeding South Florida serves people from Palm Beach County to the Keys. A quarter of the state's food insecure population.
"Pre COVID last year we did distribute about 62 million pounds of food and this past year we distributed about 118 million pounds, 60 million of which has just been in the past 5 months in response to the pandemic," Executive Director Sari Vatske said.
Vatske said they went from serving 700,000 people to between 1.4 to 1.5 million.
"We have a home delivery program, we set up drive-thrus, we're also summer break spots so grab-and-go meals also provide access to SNAP applications so there's a variety of methods we serve people," she said.
The organization has a new kitchen in their Boynton Beach facility. At its peak, the kitchen can dish out 10,000 meals. She said it's important for people to know the need to help others is still very real.
Boylston said Sari is right because he's seen it every Wednesday at Catherine Strong Park.
"We're hoping we continue this relationship with Feeding South Florida, not only through all these tough times we're going through now but into the future post-pandemic," he said.