The number of people facing food insecurity solely due to the coronavirus pandemic is staggering, putting strain on local food pantries. They’ve seen demand rise as much as seven times since before the virus took hold in early March.

Osceola County, which has provided “gap funding” assistance to local pantries twice already during the pandemic, will not let them fail. With the second round of $45,000 or so in gap funding scheduled to run out this week, County Commission Chair Viviana Janer said at Monday’s meeting that a third round would be released to key local non-profit food banks. Expect an announcement later this week or next, so they can continue to provide food to those in the community who are in need due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, Commissioner Brandon Arrington also announced at Monday’s meeting that Second Harvest Food Bank, who local food pantries get much of their charitable food supply from, has plans to provide direct funding to 12 local food pantries to keep them propped up.

Roughly three weeks ago, Second Harvest CEO Dave Krepcho reported the devastating economic downturn of the last three months has meant over 435,000 meals are being missed each week in Central Florida. Prior to the virus, Second Harvest provided food for 400,000 unique people a year or 150,000 meals a day. Now they are providing 300,000 meals a day — many to new families who never thought they would need a food pantry.