A local hero is stepping up for the community, giving away food to those who need it the most during these troubled moments.
For the last 11 days, Vanessa Tinsley has been working hard with one goal in mind, to serve the community she loves. Alongside her organization and dozens of volunteers, she has been distributing food to those families in South Dade who are struggling to put food on the table during the coronavirus outbreak.
Vanessa is the executive director of Bridge to Hope, a non-profit organization that’s been active for three decades. All these years, their food program has provided healthy and nutritious food to help alleviate food insecurity in South Florida. They have a community kitchen and a food pantry at their location on Cutler Bay, where they currently are conducting ongoing drive-thru food distributions to those affected by the emergency.
“Layoffs due to the coronavirus mean many South Floridians won’t be able to provide meals for their families. Businesses are shutting down and people are jobless. They are having to choose between paying their utility bills, mortgage, or buying food. We’re here for you in this time of need,” said Vanessa.
It is a non-stop operation at which they have been extraordinarily busy. Usually, Bridge to Hope serves 4,000 clients a month, but just this week, they managed to help 7,000. Hundreds of people have shown up every day, waiting in line inside their cars for volunteers to put food in the trunk.
“People are coming every day to pick up food. We’re dispatching out of our Cutler Bay location (10844 SW 188 Street), mostly serving South Dade residents. We’re also working with several social workers who are picking up food for their clients, and we have in place a pick-up and delivery operation for our elderly.
This week on a busy day, they managed to distribute about 21,000 pounds of food. “We’re moving between 40,000 to 50,000 pounds of food a week to more than 400 to 500 families,” she added. All food is stored at their 1,450-square-foot food pantry with freezers and walk-in coolers, so it remains fresh and in perfect condition.
“We’re focused on health, so we’re giving away real food like meat, milk, fresh produce, fresh fruits, and also we’ve had fish,” Vanessa explained. They’re not only dispatching food but also hygienic products like toilet paper and diapers. Food is provided by several partners including Whole Foods, Target, Aldi Supermarkets, and other non-profits and hunger-relief organizations.
To receive donations, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and make an appointment to avoid car lines and long waits. “You just drive up, park, open the trunk, and our volunteers drop the food inside,” she mentioned. The crew is wearing masks and gloves, and there is no interaction with the driver, making sure social distance is applied.
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