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By the numbers: food insecurity in South Florida

The creative ways the area’s largest hunger-relief organization is meeting the needs of its community

Bursting with fresh citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit, and farm staples including squash, cucumbers, cabbage, green beans and bell peppers, South Florida is one of the nation’s largest and most abundant agricultural regions. Yet even with more than 45,000 farms harvesting millions of tons of produce annually, getting meals to residents in need during the coronavirus has required ingenuity and dedication. “Our team has had to be extremely creative in the way it sources food,” says Paco Vélez, president and CEO of Feeding South Florida, the area’s largest hunger-relief organization.

One way they have done that is to pay local farmers to harvest their crops—rather than leave them in the fields—despite the lack of commercial demand for such things as fresh produce, meats and fish. And because grocery stores have had far less to donate, Feeding South Florida has turned to buying large quantities of food directly from distributors, spending up to $70,000 for a single truckload. Donations such as a $520,000 grant from Bank of America are helping Feeding South Florida ease strained budgets and provide food to hungry families.

Fruits in a plate

Below, the numbers before and after coronavirus paint a powerful story of food insecurity—and show the heroic efforts Feeding South Florida has undertaken to make sure that homes in need have meals on the table.

Feeding South Florida: By the Numbersfootnote*

520: Average calls per week from individuals and families requesting food, pre-coronavirus

4,700: Average calls per week during the coronavirus

40: Percentage of families at drive-through distribution sites seeking food assistance for the first time

62 million: Total pounds of food distributed in 2019

150 million: Estimated total pounds of food distributed since March 9th

$61,000: Total cost of food purchases by Feeding South Florida in 2019

$2,000,000: Cost of food purchases made since the onset of the coronavirus

$750,000: Approximate monthly expenses for Feeding South Florida in 2019

$2 million: Monthly expenses since onset of coronavirus

100+: Number of volunteers working at the organization’s warehouses each day

1,000: Number of families served at a single drive-through on a single day in May

1,000: Number of families served by each truckload

As nonprofits adjust to addressing increased needs in their local communities, Bank of America is committed to supporting them. Learn more about the bank’s $100 million philanthropic commitment to more than 1,300 non-profits on the front lines, as well as the bank’s $250 million commitment to assisting local businesses in underserved communities.

Stats provided by Feeding South Florida


Originally published 01/04/2021