Food insecurity continues in South Florida (includes photo essay)

Food insecurity has been a problem in South Florida for many years, even before the pandemic. Covid-19 made the problem even worse. The food bank Feeding South Florida estimates there are more than 705,000 people experiencing food insecurity in our region. That would look like filling up Hard Rock Stadium ten times over.

Despite Miami’s immense wealth, many of its people remain caught in an endless chase for a proper life.

In early December of 2022, we followed the organizers of Hope for the Homeless, a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2010, as they brought clothes, food, and necessities to the homeless in Downtown Miami.

One popular stop is SW 2nd St and 2nd Ave, a few blocks away from the Miami Wharf. The volunteers identify themselves with yellow shirts. But even local passersby will occasionally contribute.

Cup noodles are often the first items to come into the area. Volunteers apply warm soup to the cup noodles to prepare a proper meal. These tanks serve up to 150 people each.

One volunteer serves two cups to a homeless man, inspiring him to stay strong.

Another homeless man receives a cup from volunteers. This generous donation gives him the help he needs to keep moving, especially with a walking condition.

The weekly donations help people from all walks of life come together. Volunteers help make those who cannot help themselves in a direct way, and even hear about the homeless experience. Fellow homeless people also mingle amongst themselves, connecting with each other and sharing their struggles.

After a lengthy line of around 30 people, the soup car’s supply has noticeably shrunk. This is only the first stop for this group.

To wait for other supplies on the way, the homeless will often eat on the surrounding sidewalk.

However, standing is not always comfortable. With no seats in sight, sometimes these people will have to make do with the few available ridges on the sidewalk.

Insecurity is a prison of its own kind. The uncertainty of finding proper rest or nutrition starves them both physically and mentally. Despite Miami’s immense wealth, many of its people remain caught in an endless chase for a proper life.

The second car finally arrives! To receive necessities, the homeless form another single file line.

This second car contains more solidified food items, with bags of different snacks. The organization distributes around 750 snack bags per week.

Upon closer detail, these snack bags include chips, sandwiches, and a bottle of water. These provide proper hydration, protein, and carbohydrates to soothe the human body’s needs.

The line continues as those who previously received noodle cups also come for snacks. Such a combination ensures them a full meal for the night.

One man stands by his snacks, and he finishes a noodle cup.

Miami weather is unpredictable in the downtown area. However, a little drizzle never bothered anyone. These volunteers just suit up with raincoats and continue their mission.

One homeless man talks about his experience in the streets with a volunteer. He tells him that even if it rained a little, he’s still thankful every day to wake up alive and well. To him, life is the ultimate gift.

Volunteers guide the homeless forward as the final car arrives with another category of supplies. In curiosity, the homeless look upon the car to see what it has to offer.

The answer: backpacks, which will allow these people to carry important items with comfort and safety.

The volunteers at Hope for the Homeless are not wealthy. They’re ordinary, middle-class people with their own jobs and worries. Despite their own struggles, they still have the heart to help those in need in the gap between grander entities. These people truly cement the Catholic faith’s religion about helping one another. Because as organizer Ernie Rodriguez says, “It’s what God would want us to do.”

Julio Rodriguez is a Cuban American FIU Student. He is pursuing a bachelor's in Digital TV and Multimedia Production, along with a film certificate. He hopes to work in film and tv production as a writer or director.