Many people in Central Florida face hunger on a daily basis.
A nonprofit seeks to improve the quality of life for these individuals by supplying fresh foods and health education in the process.
“We began this process because we knew there was a need in the community for fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Charles Drake, president and CEO of Community United Outreach.
Based in a warehouse off North John Young Parkway, Community United Outreach receives and distributes thousands of pounds of fresh food each day.
The turnaround time for each incoming shipment is less than a day, allowing the team to feed around 30,000 people with nutritious food each month.
“Okra won’t last overnight. The chicken won’t last overnight. The corn won’t last overnight. By 4 or 5 o’clock this evening, all of this will be gone,” Drake said about the truck load of food in the facility.
Community United Outreach partners with other organizations and churches, supplying them with food to distribute to those in need.
“We give it to them (the partners) by the pallet load, by the huge box loads, so we know that there’s a great need for people who are hungry out there,” Drake added.
The team recognized the community’s need for fresh foods early on when they started out in Mt. Sinai’s church parking lot, helping about 1,000 people at a time.
“We began to see the same people every time, the same people. We said, ‘There’s something wrong, we’re not fixing a problem, there’s a problem,” Drake added.
To help solve the problem and arm people with practical skills for healthy living, Florida Hospital gave Community United Outreach a major grant.
The grant allowed Community United Outreach to expand their food distribution mission and move to the warehouse. It also funds health improvement classes, diabetes screenings and personal services to families in the community.
In the seven months since the grant, 41 distribution partners have signed up, affecting 250,000 people across Central Florida.
For more information on Community United Outreach and their services, visit their Facebook page.