Osceola County fights food insecurity, increases available grant dollars

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 Osceola County Commissioners released approximately $90,000 this week to continue to fight food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since April, the Board has committed more than $12 million in CDBG and CARES Act funds to help 950 households -- and this number increases daily.

The Board of County Commissioners previously allocated $140,000 from its Federal CARES Act funds for fight food insecurity. Combined with other funds, about $228,000 has been used for this purpose as many residents recovering from the financial impacts of this ongoing crisis have increased the demand on local food pantries.
“Osceola County is committed to taking steps to raise awareness about the need to combat hunger in our community and to help provide additional resources that residents need,” said Osceola Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer. “These funds make sure that our vital community non-profits are able to serve our residents during this time of incredible demand.”
On Wednesday, $47,700 was issued to 15 food pantries for food to support an additional 9 to 12 weeks of service. Another $40,000 was earmarked so that seven pantries could obtain refrigerators and freezers to support their efforts.

The following non-profits have received funding to combat food insecurity: Anointed Victorious Outreach Services, Church and Community Assistance Program, Living Water Fellowship of Kissimmee, Inc. (Intercession City location), Community Hope Center Inc., Iglesia Cristiana Renuevo Inc., Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal M.I, Living Water Fellowship of Kissimmee, Inc.,  One United Mission, Inc., Osceola Council on Aging, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, St. Cloud Community Pantry, St. John Episcopal Church-Trinity House, Summit Bible Church, The Advance Community Outreach Center AKA the Advance Senior Center, and The Salvation Army.
This month the Commission joined the Second Harvest Food Bank in celebrating Hunger Action Month.

More than 48,000 individuals in Central Florida rely on food provided by the members of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida each day, officials said. Members of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida distributed more than 58 million meals in 2018 through its network of food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other community organizations.
In addition to helping feed residents, the County continues rental and mortgage foreclosure prevention assistance. Residents can learn more at Housing.Osceola.Org. It is important for any residents who applied and are still seeking assistance to respond when contacted by the Human Services Department. And if you have been contacted and have not returned required documents, please submit any requested documents to Human Services as soon as possible for final processing so payments may be issued.
By the end of week, the County will have reached out to all 6,000 applicants from our August application period. As we finish processing all of these applications and issuing additional payments, we are already planning the next application period, which will open on October 5th. We will provide more details as that date approaches.

Osceola County received an additional $1.3 million in CARES SHIP funds this week to extend qualifying residents with more rental and mortgage foreclosure prevention assistance, keeping them housed and out of homelessness.

Osceola has also reopened its grant portal to accept applications from businesses and updated the parameters of the program – doubling the limits available for grants, up to $20,000 depending on the size of a business.

If you previously applied and were not accepted, you may reapply, and if you did receive a grant already, you may also reapply for additional funding.  Visit the updated grants section of our website to find revised parameters and a step-by-step video explaining the process. Find this information at www.weveopenedsafely.com.

The County also used about $860,000 in Coronavirus Relief Funds so that at least 340 residents may get new job skills and training through Valencia College. For more information on how to apply, visit www.valenciacollege.edu/AST.