Hundreds line up for food distribution

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/ MaryAnn Ketcham
OKEECHOBEE — Over 500 motorists lined up at the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center Friday for the Treasure Coast Food Bank Drive-Thru Mobile Pantry. Children, seniors, veterans and families received fresh apples, pears, milk, juice, cheese, protein and other food and fresh produce.

OKEECHOBEE — Hundreds of families received assistance from the Treasure Coast Food Bank distribution at the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center, but so many people turned out for the event that many were turned away.

The food distribution was scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. on March 27. At 4:25 p.m., the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office posted an announcement on Facebook that the food drive was closed “due to an overwhelming crowd.”

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“We served over 500 families at our distribution on Friday at the center,” explained Krista Garofalo of Treasure Coast Food Bank.

“There was a lineup crossing a major intersection and the local authorities asked those cars in line to leave for safety reasons,” she said.

The food bank visit had been advertised for 4 to 6 p.m., but cars started lining up hours in advance, some as early as 11 a.m.

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“We advertise our mobile distributions with a time frame to discourage people from arriving earlier than necessary,” said Ms. Garofalo.

“Because of the significant increase in demand for food assistance right now, we will be back in Okeechobee again this coming week,” Ms. Garofalo explained. “Treasure Coast Food Bank staff are working seven days a week ramping up services to provide as much food as possible to meet both the long-term and short-term needs of people who have had been affected by the coronavirus. For 10 years, we have had a steady presence supporting Okeechobee residents in need of food assistance, and we are not going to stop doing that work now.”

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The Treasure Coast Food Bank thanked Christ Fellowship Church Okeechobee, Okeechobee Mayor Dowling Watford and all the wonderful volunteers who helped at the mobile pantry.

Details for the next mobile food pantry will be posted on the website as soon as the information is released.

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