840 meals last week, another 1350 in next three days!

By Denise Badger-Connell, Publisher

COVID-19 brought a crises to our community that left many Apopka families cut off from income almost overnight, struggling to pay basic expenses of rent and groceries. Those teetering on the wire of survival found themselves in a free fall, and needing a lifeline became more than a metaphor.

That’s where Hope CommUnity Center (Hope) comes in, understanding this reality at a visceral level having worked with our families on the margins every day since 1971. They know how hard these families work to keep their children safe with a roof over their heads and food on the table. And they know when disaster hits, what may have worked before doesn’t cut it now.

That’s one of the reasons they reached out to Chefs for America (CFA), Orlando, part of a larger nonprofit organization, World Central Kitchen, to secure one more lifeline to help our families.

CFA Orlando, a local coalition of hospitality professionals inspired by Chef and Humanitarian José Andrés to help feed those who need it the most in times of crises, rallied to the call to do what they do best: organize restaurant and service support, cook nutritious meals, and deliver them to the families in need ASAP.

Raphael Delgado, a Sommelier and volunteer with World Central Kitchen in Orlando, shared that when he saw [Hope] was helping families in the community, some of which are immigrants, they wanted to connect. “Immigrants are an important mission for our Chef, José Andrés. And we are inspired by this mission, to feed the people of America during this crisis with the urgency of yesterday.”

Delgado and Chef Kristoffer Anderson, another volunteer on the culinary side, stepped into action immediately, and just last week Thursday and Friday, with the help of CFA Orlando, World Central Kitchen, Jaleo by Jose at Disney Springs, donations of fresh produce and dry goods by Sysco, FreshPoint, EMD, Boar’s Head, and DuFrane Bakery, the staff and volunteers of Hope distributed 840 prepared meals to Apopka families in Chalet North, Brightwood, Manor, South Apopka, and other areas nearby.

It was hope delivered by Hope in the form of hot meals made by crazy-good chefs who cared.

“We hope this inspires others to do the same, like ripples in a pond,” said Delgado. “If a restaurant or food establishment helps their community… food distribution becomes easier… and this increases the need for food… so then a restaurant can hire more people… and it helps not only people but also the economy. Fulfilling one need, by one meal, for one person, has a compounding affect.”

Like ripples in a pond, the good got better

Hope’s Director of Communications & Media, Nicole Franco, shared that the good news got even better. While they thought Thursday and Friday was the mountain top, World Central Kitchen and CFA, Orlando told them they are coming back this week for three more days, providing 450 more meals per day, feeding more Apopka families!

“We feel very lucky to be partnering with World Central Kitchen,” said Hope’s Executive Director, Laura Pichardo-Cruz. “Through this partnership, Hope has been able to provide nutritious meals to some of our community’s most vulnerable residents. This pandemic has been especially harmful for the community we serve. Folks have just been very grateful to receive this in such a devastating time.”

If you know of other communities and families who could use this kind support, or if you want to be a part of this mission to feed those in need, reach out to Chefs for America, Orlando and / or Hope CommUnity Center

About Chefs for America, Orlando and World Central Kitchen

CFA, Orlando, part of the larger organization, World Central Kitchen (WCK), is working extra hard during COVID-19 across America to safely distribute individually packaged, fresh meals in communities that need support. These meals are prepared for children and families to pick up and take home, as well as for delivery to seniors who cannot venture outside.

Traditional safety nets like school feeding programs, city services, and food banks are struggling to meet basic needs. Seniors, who are isolated for their safety, are unable to access meal services. Meanwhile, the country’s hospital workers are more stretched than ever before.

WCK is also now activating restaurants to help meet this demand by providing jobs for their staff and meals for those in need. #ChefsForAmerica is making a key connection between people who need meals and restaurant workers and drivers who need to earn a living.

WCK national efforts have surpassed 2 million freshly cooked, individually wrapped meals delivered to the people who need it the most.  #ChefsForAmerica is making a key connection, between people who need meals and restaurant workers and drivers who need to earn a living.

About Hope CommUnity Center

Hope CommUnity Center located at 800 S. Hawthorne Ave., Apopka is a service learning community dedicated to the empowerment of Central Florida’s immigrant and working poor communities through education, advocacy, and spiritual growth.

They exist to serve and cultivate self-determined communities through personal, social and communal transformation. Their vision is to be the premier center of hope and empowerment for Central Florida’s immigrant and working poor communities.

To volunteer, donate, or to join the team, check out details here.


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