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Florida Politics: Farm Share stands ready to help as coronavirus spreads

Published by: Peter Schorsch

Florida Politics

March 18, 2020

Store business hours dwindling, kids are home from school, and the food service and tourism industry workers who make up the backbone of Florida’s economy are either on hiatus or catering to increasingly thin crowds.

It may not be uprooting homes in the way hurricanes Michael or Irma did, but the rapid spread of the new coronavirus has already had an unprecedented impact on Florida’s economy.

Many counties have stepped up to make sure vulnerable workers aren’t kicked out of their homes as their wages wither away. So too have many utility companies pledged to keep the lights on for customers who can’t pay their electric bills.

Those are needed accommodations, but they don’t put food on the table.

Farm Share does.

More than 88 million pounds of it every year.

The nonprofit’s sole mission is to collect fresh, nutritious, Florida-grown food that would otherwise go to waste and get it into the hands of people who need it most.

With their help, thousands of Floridians could be spared from having to suffer through job losses and social distancing on an empty stomach.

The nearly 30-year-old organization stands ready to deliver to the Florida families who have been hardest hit by the global pandemic. It’s already helping schoolchildren and their families in Miami-Dade, and its in the process designing a way to safely deliver food to seniors who can’t risk making a grocery run.

But coronavirus has taken its toll on Farm Share, too.

“Unfortunately, the current economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus necessitated major cuts at the end of the Legislative Session, and Farm Share became a casualty,” Farm Share President and CEO Stephen Shelley said.

“Farm Share’s budget was reduced from what it needs to be fully funded by $2.3 million dollars. This cut severely impairs our ability to provide emergency food in the event of a natural disaster or a public health crisis like coronavirus, as well as our ongoing ability to alleviate hunger.”

The cut, down to $1.25 million in the upcoming budget, comes at precisely the moment Farm Share’s services are needed most. The loss in funding will slash the amount of food Farm Share is able receive and distribute by more than 40 million pounds.

“We hope and pray that alternative sources of funding will step up and help provide Farm Share with the moneys it needs to avoid this loss of life sustaining food,” he concluded.

Indeed, prayers are needed, as the state budget is wrapped. All that remains is a final vote on Thursday.


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