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South Florida food banks respond to increasing demand

Posted at 5:13 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 17:13:31-04

A report commissioned by Feeding Florida, the state's food bank network, shows in a worst case scenario, we could see anywhere from an additional 33-48% jump in additional unemployed workers in our 5-county region.

South Florida food banks are stepping up to meet this potentially unprecedented demand.

Nearly every day, 12-14 hours a day the food production kitchen for the Treasure Coast Food Bank is humming.

The need is great.

Judy Cruz with Treasure Coast Food Bank said, “Normally we serve 100,000 each week and we’re looking at two and three times those numbers right now.”

Right now, the Fort Pierce facility is focusing on soup.

Local growers planting for restaurants and school systems had limited options when the pandemic hit.

Mark DeLeo with B&W Quality Growers said, “Right now, what we’re doing is we have excess products and we know there are plenty of people that are needing meals.”

He says they’ve given close to 500,000 pounds of vegetables to Florida food banks.

“And our part is we can make soup. We can make lots and lots of vegetable soup with the wonderful vegetables we have in the state of Florida,” Cruz said.

After the soup is made, it first goes in the chiller. Then the soup is moved into freezers so the bags can dry. Once the bags are dried, they’re then boxed up and shipped around the state.

Making soup extends the shelf life of food that otherwise could have gone to waste.

“We’re here to support the community, we’re here to support the farmers and the end of the day, our job is to put food on tables and that’s what we’re doing,” Cruz said.