The Pearlman Food Pantry at Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando is as busy as ever — working diligently to ensure those in need can get vital food assistance for themselves and their families.
“So far this year, JFS Orlando’s pantry has distributed record levels of food not seen in our 45-year history” says Philip Flynn III, president of Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando. According to Flynn, four of the past six months have exceeded our previous record of 447 sets, with the highest being 581 in May 2023.” A set is enough groceries to feed a family of 4 for a week. “If this trend continues, we estimate that by the end of 2023 we will provide close 250,000 meals to those who depend on our assistance year-round.”
The Pearlman Food Pantry, located at 2100 Lee Road in Winter Park, provides food equal to almost 23,000 meals per month. Our goal is to “take food insecurity off the table” so people can focus on taking care of their family’s other needs like education and their wellbeing” added Flynn. “If you don’t have enough food on your table, it’s hard to think about how you’re going to find a job or take care of your kids.
Current economic woes are weighing on low to moderate-income families who are dealing with inflation while Covid-era benefits have ended. Food insecurity has far-reaching implications, not just on families, but on the broader economy.
In Central Florida, nearly 1 in 8 people are living with food insecurity, according to Feeding America. Many working families are forced to make the difficult choice between paying for food, medical care, and utilities with 1 in 3 people facing hunger unlikely to even qualify for SNAP.
Not having consistent nutrition leads to chronic illnesses such as obesity and diabetes. Those conditions can result in higher medical bills, reduced worker productivity, days off from work and increased poverty.
Most worrisome is that 1 in 5 children live with food insecurity. Being food insecure at any age can be harmful, but it can be devastating for children. It can stunt their growth, affect their ability to learn and forces them to withdraw from social interaction. The consequences and costs of food insecurity for children of all ages make addressing the issue an economic and social imperative as research demonstrates links between food insecurity and poor child health and behavioral outcomes at every age.
This significant increase shows not just how essential our food pantry is to the community, but how critical the persistent need for food assistance is these days. JFS recently expanded the Pearlman Food Pantry to nearly double the size to about 600 square feet and added new equipment that makes it easier to distribute larger amounts of food. “This expansion is part of our long-term strategy focused on making access to healthy food more convenient and consistent”, Flynn said recently.
If you are in need of food assistance, please call (407) 644-7593 or visit JFSorlando.org. If you would like to support JFS Orlando and their FAMILY of Services, please visit ask for Aaron Bernstein.