The line of cars waiting for food could have stretched for miles along West U.S. Highway 192 Thursday morning.
Clarita’s House Outreach Ministry in Kissimmee was holding one of its regular food drops. But Thursday was all but regular, according to Founder and Executive Director Doreen Barker.
They normally have enough food for about 500 people.
“There’s people who have been here this morning since 5:30 and right now we have a couple of miles on 192 where the cars are,” Barker said. “I don’t know if we are going to have enough food for this amount of people.”
As the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office conducted crowd control, a semi-truck from Second Harvest Food Bank dropped of numerous pallets of food at the feeding site, which spanned several connecting parking lots off U.S. 192.
Clarita’s House mainly caters to the homeless who are living in hotels along the U.S. 192 corridor, Barker noted. The ministry notified the public about the food drive by dropping off some fliers at the hotels and by posting the information on its Facebook page.
“We didn’t do any advertising,” Barker said of the crowd response. “We just put it on Facebook and people share. If we put the announcement in the media, it would be 5,000 people.”
Susan, from St. Cloud, (she didn’t want to provide her last name) was waiting in line for her chance to get some food. She called Clarita’s House’s efforts “overwhelming.”
A similar drive-through pantry was held last month at Osceola Heritage Park. It was organized by several nonprofits, and drew a similar crowd.
Barker said her ministry was just trying to make a a difference in a time when COVID-19 is crippling some people financially.
“There is a great need. We have a crisis,” she said. “People are scared right now. They don’t know where their next meal is coming from.”