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  • Justin Cox

Many Orlando Residents Face Food Insecurity

The Orlando economy was hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded Orlando's unemployment rate at 6.9% in December of 2020. That represents a nearly 300% increase over the December 2019 rate.

Before the pandemic began, Orlando was facing an already-high poverty rate. Determined by the annual Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Poverty Guidelines, the US Census Bureau asserted 17.2% of Orlando residents were living in poverty between 2015 and 2019. With high unemployment levels, it's excepted the next Census report will show an increase in local poverty.

While these numbers are already high, they fail to account for Orlando's underrepresented homeless population, who often do not file for unemployment benefits. In 2020, the annual Point-in-Time (PIT) Count recorded 1,401 homeless individuals living in Orlando/Orange County. Record unemployment, high poverty levels, and a large homeless population mean many Central Florida residents lack reliable food access.

Food insecurity was estimated as high as 23% across the country in 2020. Following that estimate, roughly 66,111 of Orlando's 287,442 residents had difficulties sourcing a meal last year.

The Christian Service Center aims to alleviate food insecurity across Central Florida through the Daily Bread program that serves breakfast and lunch in Downtown Orlando, Ocoee, and Winter Park.

Daily Bread Downtown serves high-quality, nutritious, chef-made meals seven days a week to anyone in need. Today, chef Lawrence Graham and his team of volunteers from Chefs Against Hunger served baked chicken, herb rice, green beans, salad, and a desert to approximately 309 guests.

While the Orlando economy continues to struggle under the weight of poverty, homelessness, and unemployment, the Christian Service Center is providing food to those in need. With 50 years of experience serving Central Florida, the Christian Service Center will see Orlando through the current pandemic and continue providing vital services to those in need for years to come.

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