Food distributions in Miami-Dade, Broward draw local leaders, NFL player

MIAMI (WSVN) - Neighbors are helping neighbors who are struggling to afford food during the coronavirus pandemic at various distributions across South Florida, and the events are drawing local leaders and even a sports celebrity with an appetite for help.

In Florida City, New York Jets linebacker James Burgess Jr. was on hand at a grocery grab organized by Farm Share, Thursday.

“It was a no-brainer for me,” he said.

7News cameras captured the NFL star working the food line.

“Everyone is thankful, everyone says thank you, everyone’s excited to get food in their home,” he said. “Some people probably, literally don’t have any groceries, so this is a big help for them.”

State Rep. Kionne McGhee from Florida’s 117th District said it’s up to South Floridians to step up and aid fellow residents during this difficult time.

“Somebody has to feed these people. We can’t wait for the federal government. We can’t wait for the state government. We have to do it ourselves,” he said.

Farm Share is also working with North Bay Village to hand out bags filled with food, as well as coloring books and activities for children.

“We can make this journey that everyone is going through at this moment as easy as possible,” said North Bay Village Commissioner Julianna Strout.

“Thank you very much for the help,” said a driver who was given bags for her family.

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County Public Schools continued their ongoing meal pickup service at 50 of their campuses.

7News cameras showed students picking up “grab and go” meals at Miami Northwestern Senior High Schools, Thursday afternoon.

Cameras also captured families driving up to Miami Jackson Senior High and Miami Edison Senior High.

M-DCPS have distributed nearly 540,000 meals since March 16. Officials said about 73% of their students rely on free or reduced-price meals.

In Fort Lauderdale, people lined up early to take part in a food distribution hosted by the Salvation Army.

Among those residents was Michael McElfresh, who said he’s going through a very challenging time.

“I have no food, no job, no choice,” he said.

Crews remained busy for hours as they handed out bags of food.

Salvation Army officials said they’re seeing a 50% increase in the need for this type of help.

“I expect it to go even much higher,” said Maj. Stephen Long, Salvation Army Area Commander.

Long said he hopes more community partners will come forward to join the effort.

“There are people coming in every day, not just once a week, but every day for food, and we can’t turn them away,” he said.

In Davie, Square Root Church hosted a “grab and go” food distribution.

Thursday morning, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony, meanwhile, worked with The Pantry of Broward to make deliveries in Lauderdale Lakes.

“We’ve seen a reduction in calls for services. We’ve seen a reduction in arrests, so we have a little bit more free time to do those things that are essential to support the community,” he said.

“That means a lot for me because I don’t go outside,” said food recipient Mary Mizell.

The meal pickup service at Miami Northwestern ran until 7 p.m.

Strout said North Bay Village will continue handing out enough food to feed a family of four for at least the next four weeks.

“You have all these members that work in the hospitality industry that are still waiting for their stimulus checks, but in the meantime, we want to be able to at least provide them the bare minimum of food,” she said.

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