Miami-Dade allocates $900K for food banks to buy produce from local farmers

HOMESTEAD, FLA. (WSVN) - Miami-Dade County is setting aside hundreds of thousands of dollars to help local farmers who are waiting to receive help from the federal government during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sam Accursio of Sam S. Accursio and Sons Farms said his business feels as if it’s in a state of suspended animation ever since COVID-19 cases were first reported in the U.S.

“Well, it just slowed everything down,” he said.

As a result, their crops aren’t being bought, and a lot of it is going to waste, rotting in the fields.

“You know, we grow it to maturity, and then to destroy it, it just breaks our heart,” said Accursio.

But there is some relief coming for businesses like Accursio’s.

On Tuesday, Miami-Dade County officials announced they have allocated $900,000 for food banks and other food distribution programs. Those food banks can then use that money to purchase produce from local farms.

“The local government came in quick, made some decisions, and that helped us,” said Accursio.

But farms like S & L Beans wouldn’t be able to receive those funds. They exclusively grow palm trees, and the pandemic has brought Sal Finocchiaro’s farm to a near standstill.

“We went from pulling almost 100 trees a week down to 10, 12, 13 trees,” said Finocchiaro.

Accursio and Finocchiaro have applied for a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, but they said the federal dollars have already dried up.

“By the time we got the application done, they were out of funds,” said Finocchiaro.

Without that money, these farmers are not sure if there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Now they hope Congress can strike a deal.

“I hope that they can come together and forget that line of left and right,” said Accursio.

Additional help is coming for Florida farmers. Publix Super Markets announced they will purchase produce and milk from them to donate to local food banks. Those food banks will then give those items to families in need.

Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.

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