Published On: Wed, Apr 1st, 2020

600 People Received Free Food in Drive at Catherine Strong Park

By Destiny Spence

Residents are told to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic but on Wednesday, more than 600 defied those orders when they came to Catherine Strong Park for a food giveaway.

As communities across the country grapple with the economic fallout from the pandemic, 600 cars lined entered the park and each left with a bag of food to feed themselves and their families. The first-come-first-serve food distribution was one of many mobile drives planned to help the people who are hurting right now.

“Normally we serve around 706,000 food-insecure folks throughout the quad county, (Feeding South Florida service area from Palm Beach to Monroe counties) and we are seeing a 600 percent increase due to COVID 19,” said Hillary Gale, spokeswoman for Feeding South Florida. “We are setting up municipality distributions and making it as efficient as possible working with local law enforcement and Parks and Recreation officials to make sure there is traffic flow and everyone is safe. Today, we will provide about 27,000 pounds to the City of Delray Beach.”

Vehicles started lining up on SW 16th Avenue two hours before the giveaway began. They went as far back as nine blocks away, said police, who were on hand to direct traffic.

It took about three hours to give away 600 bags of milk, eggs, oranges, apples, cantaloupes, meat, and lettuce to families in need.

“Thank God for this,” Darlene Scott, said after waiting 40 minutes in line. “It was well worth the wait.”

The giveaway was a collaborative effort between the cities of Delray Beach and Miramar, Feeding South Florida, DeCoste Consulting, LLC in Delray Beach and KOP Mentoring Network.

Employees from the City’s Parks and Recreation Department, and volunteers from the Chamber of Commerce and KOPMN loaded the bags in the trunks as drivers pulled up. 

“It’s so amazing to see all the volunteers who have come out to feed the community and we’re not talking about giving away a meal. We’re giving away huge bags of grocery that should be good for a week or two,” Delray Beach Vice Mayor Ryan Boylston said. “I really think it’s important for these families.”

City officials took the opportunity to remind residents to register for the 2020 Census if they have not done so yet.

Tennille DeCoste said she arranged the giveaway to help out local families who lost jobs due to being laid off from the coronavirus.

“So many people have lost their jobs because of this virus, so we need to ensure our residents have food,” she said, adding that the giveaway will continue weekly. “Thank God, the City approved it so they’re going to have this on a weekly basis. We do not want any family to go hungry, especially children and our seniors.”

Miramar City Commissioner Maxwell B. Chambers sees no boundaries when it comes to helping people in need.

“In desperate times like this, we are using thoughtful measures to make sure COVID 19 doesn’t stop us from serving  our residents, wherever they live in South Florida,” said Chambers who connected DeCoste to Feeding South Florida. “I am a commissioner. I’m not just elected for my city. I am the people’s commissioner. If someone calls me, as long as my schedule allows me, I’m there.” 

Another giveaway is scheduled from 9 to 11 a.m. next Wednesday at Catherine Strong Park, 1500 SW 6th St.

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