Orlando Meals Banks sees lengthy strains – largely from Disney forged members on trip
COVID-19 has shaken the tourism industry completely as the usual crowds just stop pouring into the area as they did before. A local grocery bank with a 2 mile long line is a sign of the times.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that the first workers on leave arrive at 4 a.m. to stake out their spots for free groceries. They wait 4 1/2 hours in their cars. If they show up late, food may run out. At 9 a.m., the almost bumper-to-bumper row of cars stretches 2 miles, clogs a lane of the Orange Blossom Trail, and drives down Landstreet Road.
Hundreds of people stand in line: Disney World employees, welders who saw the business shrink, hotel workers who were unceremoniously laid off en masse, and others.
Orlando Sentinel Orlando Sentinel
For the past four months, volunteers have been handing out free boxes of groceries every week at the drive-thru grocery bank run by Unite Here 737, a local union that mainly represents housekeepers and food service workers from Disney hotels.
“It’s getting worse every week,” said Nick Canturano, a waiter on vacation at a Hollywood Studios buffet restaurant who volunteers every week at the Outdoor Food Bank in a union hall about a mile from the Florida Mall.
The reopening of Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Orlando theme parks did not fix the Orlando economy, which recorded an unemployment rate of 15.3% in July – the highest in the state.