ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - As we head into Thanksgiving, Orange County has the third-highest unemployment rate in Florida. The Pine Hills community has been hit particularly hard, which is why a local non-profit is making sure that families have something to eat this holiday.
Dr. United Foundation of Central Florida still needs to raise $10,000 to make this happen though. Executive Director Sandra Fatmi-Hall said that when you think about the fact that 3,600 people in Pine Hills have been impacted by job loss, it really underscores the need in this community.
Every week, about 900 people in Pine Hills come to the United Foundation of Central Florida's food giveaway.
"21 weeks. 13,700 families have been fed. That's 68,500 people. No one else is doing it consistently right now," Fatmi-Hall said. She says that people desperately need help right now, especially in Pine Hills as the majority of its residents work in tourism, hospitality, and food-service industries. "All across this town, people have been furloughed. They've lost their job. Sometimes, it's two parents."
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than 27 percent of people in Pine Hills were living in poverty between 2014 and 2018. Orange County's unemployment rate sits at 10.4 percent, according to the State DEO website. That number could be even higher, meaning less food on the table this Thanksgiving.
Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill, who represents District 5 -- the area that includes part of Pine Hills. She said since the pandemic started people are constantly reaching out to her office for help.
“We are still having those that are underemployed, that are unemployed,” Commissioner Hill said. “Many of our residents are now facing evictions. Many of them have been evicted and don’t have the skillset to go and find other jobs.”
Commissioner Hill said she is working with the City of Orlando and Orange County to get people retrained and hired for essential jobs. However, she said she understands people need essentials like food right now and touts the importance of non-profits like The United Foundation of Central Florida.
“What I found is they’re surviving through the benevolence of others," she said.
“Help us feed 900 families, that’s our goal. That’s what we do every single week and so for Thanksgiving, we wouldn’t do anything less,” Fatmi-Hall said.
If you would like to help the United Foundation of Central Florida feed 900 families this Thanksgiving, you can make a donation on their website.
The Thanksgiving food giveaway is set to happen at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, November 24th at 6003 Silver Star Road Suite 1 in Orlando.
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.