• Food for Florida: Thousands seek assistance in Marion County

    By: WFTV Web Staff , Michael Lopardi


    MARION COUNTY, Fla. - The Florida Department of Children and Families hosted a second day of enrollment for its Food for Florida Disaster Food Assistance program in Marion County.

    Thousands of residents who lost power and whose food spoiled after Hurricane Irma packed the center Tuesday.

    The program also helps residents who had damage to their homes or loss of income.

    The program counts only income loss and expenses from Sept. 5 to Oct. 4, officials said.

    A similar event held earlier this month was canceled due to safety concerns.

    Read: Hurricane Irma: DCF to pick new location for food assistance sign up in Marion County

    DCF said the previous location posed a public safety concern because of traffic on a two-lane road.

    “We had to get up at 2 o’clock in the morning to be here at 3. But I’m glad we did because look at all the cars now,” said Marion County resident Donna Price.

    She was one of the first in line because she wanted to beat the traffic.

    People traveled from all over the state to apply for help.

    Officials processed about 3,500 applications at the event.

    “We were out here by 5. They said they were not letting us in so we had to go around and park on the road,” said resident Mary Oleman.

    Compared to the other events, the wait was minimal.

    “I walked right up, walked right through, sat down for five minutes and walked right out,” said Ocala resident Jessica Illian.

    Other Florida counties with the benefit signups had major traffic backups and lines that lasted for hours.

    “I think that the holiday might be impacting the amount of people that are coming out today with it being Halloween,” said DCF’s Kristi Gray.

    People have been asked to apply online before visiting the event, officials said.

    The event is the last Food for Florida site still open in Central Florida.

    The event is open to all Central Florida residents. The event runs from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 at Florida Horse Park, 11008 S. Highway 475 in Ocala.

    The state is expecting about 10,000 people a day.

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