Service and Community in a time of COVID-19

Wow, it has been a little over a month now since most of us started being more proactive about social distancing, replacing church services with online versions of worship, and servicing our community by providing free meals during this unprecedented time.

It seems like it was ages ago, that life was “normal”, we did not know what an N-95 mask was, and the term “separate-together” was not even in our vocabulary. Nevertheless, here we are, and the “new normal” seems to be here to stay for a little longer.

During this unprecedented time, it is imperative to remember a few things about East-Orlando, the community we serve and love. East-Orlando, particularly the area around Union Park, is a low-income area, 47% of people do not own a home, and there are hundreds of families that experience food insecurity.

To make matters worse the exponential increase of unemployment rates and business temporary and permanent closures has been hard felt on our community the past few weeks.

What is so significant about these few statistics? Well, to begin, it is important to note that people that were experiencing food shortages/insecurities before a month ago are still food-deprived today. But we also need to add the millions of people that have recently been affected for one reason or another, due to this world pandemic.

Also, it is important to note, that the need is here to stay for a while. The “new normal” will be of food insecurity for a lot of people that were already prior to the pandemic at-risk communities.

Nevertheless, not all is doomed and gloomed. Churches of all faiths around our area have stepped up food collections, food banks are experiencing more donations, and neighbors are helping neighbors daily.

Volunteers sorting out and packaging food

In that same spirit, our food pantry has ramped up operations, serving 5,682 kid’s meals to date. We also upgraded our “take a bag home” ministry that allows families to take a full week of groceries from our stockpile. During the several weeks, we have been experiencing the need, we have donated over 446 bags of groceries to families in our zip code (32825).

Typical kids meal provided to our community

There is still time for people to help since we know this is not going away anytime soon. Volunteer. It is understandable that during this pandemic, people do not want to physically volunteer and expose themselves and vulnerable family members.

That is especially true for families with elderly people or young kids living at home. Nevertheless, there are other ways to volunteer during this time.

Here are 3 ways in which you and your family can get involved in what our pantry is doing in East-Orlando:

  • Spread the word around! The more people know, the more donations we can get. Donations can be in physical nonperishable food items or money. You can donate through our secure website via PayPal (Donate button below). If you want to take a step further, do a social media campaing to get family and friends connected to this great cause.
  • You can do a food drive in your neighborhood. If you do not live in East-Orlando and still want to help, you can start a food drive wherever you live and donate the food to people that are experiencing food insecurities now. For a complete list of non-perishable items click Here.
  • Get involved in other non-physical ways: A- Pray for more donations and for our volunteers that are risking their own exposure to serve our community in this time of need. B- Send an encouraging word to volunteers and donors! Thank people on a one on one basis showing your appreciation to what they do. Your encouraging words will not go unnoticed! Texts, mail, or video is encouraged these days!

Thank you to all our volunteers, donors, and everyone making this effort possible!! We could not do it without you!!!

There is not a more crucial time for people to work together and pull together as a community. Only together we will mitigate the harsh effects of this global pandemic and the impact in our communities.

If you need more information about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact us HERE.

Stay safe and strong during this unprecedented time.