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Local organizations feeding families in need this holiday season

ORLANDO, Fla. — The holidays can be an especially tough time for families regarding money.

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It can be hard to pay bills, buy gifts, and put food on the table.

That’s why local organizations are working to ensure no one goes hungry, no matter the time of year.

From fresh produce to canned goods and sealing bags shut with dry rice and beans, local organizations and volunteers are working hard to feed families across Central Florida.

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Over the weekend, Channel 9 spoke with the CEO of U.S. Hunger, Rick Whitted.

U.S. Hunger provides healthy meals to families and uses data to address the cause of food insecurity.

Whitted said that the number of families needing food assistance is rising.

“We have seen this year more need than we saw in the pandemic year,” Whitted said. “Even in 2020 and 2021, our requests for food have skyrocketed. We’re seeing more than one and a half times what we saw back then.”

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Whitted says the squeeze on the economy pushes people to ask for help.

“I think we’re seeing more requests because we’re seeing more of the working class, the middle class, who are just trying to make ends meet,” Whitted said.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida sees the same trend in local communities.

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They tell us one in eight people live in a food-insecure household.

They collect and distribute food and grocery products daily to 625 feeding programs across seven Central Florida counties.

“Everyone deserves a nutritious meal,” Erika Spence with Second Harvest said. “That’s what we’re here to do at Second Harvest.”

Both U.S. Hunger and Second Harvest websites have tools where you can request or search for food assistance.

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