Thirty-three days into the longest federal government shutdown ever, food pantries across South Florida are calling for more donations and volunteers to help families impacted by the closure.
The region is home to thousands of federal employees and government contractors who are not receiving pay. As the impasse over funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall continues, many other families who depend on federal food assistance are at risk of losing their benefits.
The food banks, Feeding South Florida and Farm Share, both say they have fed nearly 5,000 people affected by the shutdown. But they need more assistance. Here's what you can do to help:
Islamic Foundation of South Florida food bank
Based in Sunrise and Kendall, the food bank is giving out packages that include pasta, beans, canned vegetables, eggs and oil. Shehryar Wahid, a foundation committee member, says the food bank has spent $18,000 to buy products for people affected by the shutdown, but it needs more funding.
"The longer that this goes on, the bigger the demand gets," he said. "That need is going to grow more exponentially probably than we expected."
Wahid said people can volunteer to help put together food packages. The food bank is holding distributions at IFSF Food Pantry at 10875 NW 52nd St., Suite 7, Sunrise. You can also visit the Islamic School of Miami at 11699 SW 147th Ave., Miami.
Go to ifsf.net or call 954-605-2937 for more information.
Feeding South Florida
Sari Vatske, executive vice president of the food bank, said it needs donations of non-perishable food and other products such as baby diapers and formula. Volunteers can also help package goods at sorting facilities in Pembroke Park and Boynton Beach from Tuesday through Saturday.
"We're most in need of funds and non-food items right now," she said, noting the organization also needs financial donations. "If people want to donate food, we're looking at rice, pasta, sauce, cerial, oatmeal."
Feeding South Florida is holding food distributions across the region, including Monroe County. The food bank's sorting facilities are at 2501 SW 32 Terrace, Pembroke Park and 4925 Park Ridge Blvd., Boynton Beach.
You can learn more by visiting feedingsouthflorida.org or calling 954-518-1818.
The food bank is giving out weeks worth of food to federal employees. Gussie Flynn, a spokeswoman for the organization, said people can volunteer at Farm Share's warehouse in Homestead and at food distribution events across Miami-Dade. The food bank also needs canned goods and other non-perishable items.
"If you would like to have a canned food drive, that would be wonderful," she said.
Farm Share will hold distributions at the following locations over the next week:
— Thursday, Jan. 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 3255 Plaza St., Miami
— Friday, Jan. 25 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 6301 NE 2nd Ave., Miami
— Tuesday, Jan. 29 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 104 NW 12th St., Homestead
— Wednesday, Jan. 30 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 950 NW 20th St., Miami
For more information, visit farmshare.org or call 305-246-3276.