OPA-LOCKA – Mary Brown was impressed with what she saw as she walked in a rapidly moving line to receive free groceries at a giveaway in her city Friday.
"They are not just feeding the stomach; they’re feeding the spirit and the soul,” said Brown, 41, who was among hundreds being served by Farm Share in the parking lot of the Opa-locka City Hall, 777 Sharazad Blvd.
Vice Mayor Joseph L. Kelley, in partnership with state Sen. Oscar Braynon and state Rep. Cynthia Stafford, hosted the three-hour event which was sponsored by the Opa-locka mayor and City Commission.
Farm Share, a nonprofit organization, is working with local officials, legislators and groups to help alleviate hunger and malnutrition across the state, by recovering fresh, nutritious food and distributing it to seniors, children, families, veterans and others who need it most.
“The program is funded through grants and donations from local and national contributors,” said Alfio Ferrea, Farm Share Commodities coordinator.
For Fernando Jose Fernandez, 32, the food was welcome. “I am the only breadwinner in the house, trying to support a family of four, which includes my 87-year-old grandmother … this really helps us,” said Fernandez, a 10 year resident of Opa-locka.
Fernandez was especially grateful to Stafford, who was handing out bags of food. More than 25 community volunteers helped officials with the organizing, bagging and distribution.
Ferrea estimated that every $10 donation to Farm Share provides between $100 and $150 worth of groceries per household.
The items distributed in Opa-locka included frozen turkeys, potato wedges, beef stew, egg noodles, tomato sauce, dry pinto beans, apple juice, corn meal and organic fresh fruits and vegetables. Emergency blankets were also distributed.
“Today, we were able to serve over 600 households,” Ferrea said.
Kelley, who spearheaded the food drive, said the community and all the officials were appreciative of the initiative by Farm Share.
“During hard economic times, this was an opportunity for us to assist those who could use a little help,” Kelley said.
Brown said it was, rather, “a lot of help” that will take some of the weight off her family, due to the unexpected expenses of a funeral.
“I was blessed today, because turkey stretches with beans,” Brown said.
*FOOD FOR THE NEEDY: Opa-locka Vice Mayor Joseph L. Kelley, second from left, spearheaded a Farm Share food distribution in the city Friday. DAVID NORRIS/CITY OF OPA-LOCKA