For 20 years, a Riverview church has been distributing food. This despair is new. | Instant News

RIVER RIVER – Families wait patiently in their vehicles. Many arrived three hours early. Some come on foot.

“This is my only chance to have a meal together,” said Alice White, 67, who is caring for three grandchildren. “That is our lifeline.”

Pictures Jeaniel moves into a line of 360 vehicles that meandered in a parking lot and onto the road Wednesday morning at the River Of Life Christian Church in Riverview, waiting for their lunch box.

“It’s like an emergency because many people are desperate,” said Image, a US reserve soldier who organized a group of eight military volunteers to help with the monthly distribution of the church’s food. It’s been going on for 20 years.

However, there is nothing routine about the current distribution. The corona virus has made people like White and her husband lose their jobs or greatly reduce their work hours.

“We serve around 2,500 people a month during this pandemic,” church pastor Johnny Honaker said. “Before coronavirus, we helped 1,800 families. This is a very big operation. “

Volunteers in masks work on the assembly line, filling boxes with fresh food and dry goods – meat, canned food, vegetables, rice, fruit and snacks for children. They carry boxes directly to vehicles with minimal social contact.

The event was sponsored by Walter Farms, Long & Scott Farms and Feeding Tampa Bay – an umbrella organization that provides food for around 500 groups in the 10-county area.

“We usually have more than 300 boxes of food like this,” said Marcus Marshall, director of outreach with River of Life. “We understand that in the midst of a pandemic, it’s difficult because people don’t know what to do. So we are here to help them. “

Image, the reserve, came with The Mission Continues, a national non-profit organization that mobilized military veterans to help people and communities in need during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“Years ago I was on the same track waiting for food, so I know how it tastes,” he said. “This is my first time here, volunteering at Riverview, but I do food distribution with other organizations. The same scene: Hundreds of people waiting.

White comes for the monthly lunch box so he can save money. He is unemployed and he works less today at a company that makes metal parts. Their grandchildren are 13, 7 and 5.

“This is my third or fourth time,” White said. “It’s hard to come and ask for food, wait for hours and put aside shyness. But that’s what we have. If it wasn’t for this donation, I don’t know what we would eat.”

A few cars away, Albert Kemp, 42, was reading his Bible while he waited in his minivan. He came with his daughter Melissa, 15, all the way from Wesley Chapel. He lost his job at a car dealer in March and has seen vehicle lines grow at food distribution locations ever since.

“This really helped us,” he said.

“This is a very difficult time because there is no work and there is no guarantee that you, or I, or my daughter will not fall ill.”

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