Hundreds struggling during COVID-19 pandemic line up to receive food at distributions across South Florida

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SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - As millions across South Florida continue to struggle during the coronavirus pandemic, organizations are doing what they can to help by providing free grocery items to as many people as possible.

On Friday, Feeding South Florida and Farm Share began distributing food at several locations throughout the day.

In Southwest Miami-Dade, hundreds of cars could be seen lined up at King Jesus Ministry, located at 14100 SW 144 Ave., early Friday morning.

The distribution went from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and over 700 families were able to receive groceries.

“There’s so many people that are desperate, they’re hungry and they’re hurting, so our role here today is to be able to meet the needs of a lot of these people,” said volunteer Cassandra Sheppard.

Some of those in line said they started waiting outside of the church as early as 3 a.m.

“I lost my job two weeks back,” said recipient Mario.

“The idea is to make sure that we feed everybody and get food on everybody’s table,” said Florida Representative Anthony Rodriguez. “We want to make sure that nobody goes hungry.”

In Northwest Miami-Dade, the Fountain of Life Church, located at 3505 NW 79 St., held a food distribution event thanks to volunteers and a Feeding South Florida truck.

“This is something that we have to work together, and I know it’s hard for everybody, even for the church,” said Pastor John Fortino. “We don’t have services anymore, for three weeks now, but it is important to get together, so we can beat this thing together.”

Over in the City of Miami, a drive-thru food distribution was held at the Second Canaan Missionary Baptist Church, located at 4343 NW 17 Ave.

7News cameras captured another long line of vehicles parked along Northwest 17th Avenue before dawn on Friday.

This distribution started at 10 a.m. and was nearly out of food items by 12 p.m.

“Chicken breasts, orange juice, apples, oranges, we have canned and bagged food, potatoes and mixed fruit,” Kalenthia Nunnally Btan said.

Recipient Sabrina Parker said being able to get food on the table was worth waking up extra early.

She said dealing with the stress so many can relate to during the coronavirus pandemic has been difficult.

“It’s just been frustrating,” Parker said. “You have to stay inside. You got to close in. It’s just a headache.”

The food distributed was enough to feed 500 families, but organizers at the event quickly learned there were over 600 cars waiting in line.

“It makes me feel good to know we’re helping people but also it stressed me a little, but because there’s so many people, we can’t help still,” Nunnally said.

“What you’re seeing here is just lines and lines of people, and it shows that people are suffering here in Miami-Dade County, as well as the entire country,” said Miami-Dade County Commission Chairperson Audrey Edmonson.

City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez stopped by to help at the event and said they will do what they can to keep food distributions going amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We know that this virus has not only devastated people medically, but it has devastated the economy, and there are so many that are just struggling to get by,” said Suarez.

Several people who were waiting to get food said they have been out of work for nearly three weeks and don’t know when they’ll be able to find another job.

“This is a difficult time, and we always try to help people, but at times you need help yourself,” said recipient Grace Wild.

“My dad lost his job because of the whole coronavirus, so he’s having a hard time finding food,” said recipient Jonathan Villalta. “It’s not just that, he has a kidney transplant, so he can’t really go out. I’m here with my aunt to get food for us.”

Feeding South Florida is also helping those in Lauderdale Lakes by hosting a drive-thru food distribution at the Ambassador Seventh-Day Adventist Church, located at 3245 W. Oakland Park Blvd.

“We know that our community is going through some serious times at this very moment, dealing with COVID-19, and so we’re trying to make sure that at least some people have a really good Friday,” said Florida Representative Anika Omphroy.

“I’m so grateful that God has provided this because what we are going through right now, we have to help each other,” said recipient Charleen Campeel.

For a full list of food distributions across South Florida, click here.

Feeding South Florida urges those who would like to give donations or take part in the distributions to reach out to their organization.

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