The Coronavirus Pandemic, with restrictions, quarantine, and many unknowns, started for us in mid-March. But since mid to late April, three cities have partnered for weekly food drive in order to give residents of their city some relief amidst the chaos. Those three cities are Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors, and our very own, Oakland Park.
Through “Feeding South Florida”, the food drive is held every Thursday with the exception of the last two weeks of December. Because of the holidays, it was held on Tuesday the 22nd and the 29th. Going forward, after those dates, the drive will resume on Thursdays again.
For many people, this has been a much-needed relief in times of job loss and consequently, loss of income. It has been a beacon of hope and a sigh of relief that their families will have enough to eat.
Blue canopies line one of the access roads to Mill Pond Park’s exits. Each canopy houses various grocery items. Mountains of bread, eggs, cantaloupes, potatoes, canned goods, juices, and seemingly endless grocery supplies are distributed to the car lines.
Volunteers have a well-oiled machine and a flawless delivery system to make sure cars moved steadily by. They begin setting up as early as 5:30a.m. and open access to cars by 8am. By that time, the line is like an endless string of vehicles. At the entrance to the park, each vehicle receives a voucher that is then handed over to other volunteers. As they move along different volunteers collect the vouchers. Volunteers work together as if in choreographed dance. They make sure every item makes it into every car.
As of recently, many of the young volunteers come from “Hands on Broward”. Many of the volunteers are off from school for the Holidays and there was an amazing turnout of young teens hoping to help. This opportunity also allows them to fill their required community service hours for helping. Volunteers held many roles from passing out food, to helping directing traffic, to making sure everyone had gloves, hand sanitizer, and masks.
Everyone had a job, and everyone did it well and without a hiccup. One of the coordination Staff, Cristina Curry said, “We did not expect for this to go on this long, but as long as there is a need, we will be here, providing we still have funding, to help the community”
The drive will continue to occur every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., or until food runs out. Mils Pond Park is located at 2201 NW 9th Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304.
If you would like to volunteer with food distribution, please call Oakland Park’s Community Volunteer Corps at (954) 630-4502. Piles of empty boxes occupying corners of the field are evidence that there is in fact a great need still. The only catch may be waiting in a long line, but if you or someone you know of is in need, this would help alleviate some financial stresses that has come out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Anamaria Moreno is an Elementary school teacher. Born in Costa Rica, but mostly raised in Venezuela, Ms. Moreno came to South Florida in 1996 where she has resided ever since. She graduated from Lynn University, with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She has taught in the classroom for 18 years, most recently teaching the first grade for the past seven years. Before becoming a teacher, Ms. Moreno was involved in volunteer work with the Child Life Specialists Department at Miami Children’s Hospital. She also served as member of the Board of Directors for “A Caring Pregnancy Center” in Miami. Most recently, Ms. Moreno has taught at an elementary school in Oakland Park. Ms. Moreno also teaches ESOL to Adults in Night School. When Ms. Moreno is not in the classroom, she enjoys baking custom specialty cakes, face painting, and enjoys creating Arts and Crafts.