Osceola County has one of the most prepared and experienced emergency response teams in the nation, having dealt with countless tropical level weather events over the last decade. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has called for numerous long-term solutions, many of which are still in place as the pandemic continues to negatively affect the Osceola County community.

In the summer of 2020 Osceola County partnered with Osceola REDI (Recovery from Emergency Disaster Initiative) in order to raise funds to support food pantries in Osceola County that became overwhelmed due to the effects of COVID-19. Over the course of 18 months, Osceola REDI raised and distributed $63,200 to 20 local food pantries and partners serving 45,000 residents.

From June 2020, Osceola REDI raised and distributed $63,200 to 20 local food pantries and partners. Through social media marketing and convening with businesses and individuals around this cause, Osceola REDI and local food pantries were able to serve 45,000 people to families in Osceola County.

Warren Hougland, Senior VP for Community Action Services at Osceola Council on Aging stated, “[We’re] so thankful for the generous donation that has helped us stock the St. Cloud food pantry with nonperishable food items. This food will help feed the hungry and at-risk populations in St. Cloud. We are blessed to have received your help and support.”

In March 2020, Osceola County recorded a 60% increase in food pantry distribution, with 55% of residents visiting food pantries are out of work due to COVID-19. On average, prior to COVID-19, it takes $4,000 to $5,000 to run just one food pantry in Osceola County for an entire month. After communicating with food pantries and area agencies, Osceola REDI aimed to raise funds to supply and support food pantries within Osceola County.

“The Feeding Osceola effort was a testament to the ‘can do’ spirit Osceola County is known for. Even in the darkest of times, our community banded together to support one another and show up to provide the most basic of needs… making sure our fellow residents had food on the table. Though this campaign may be over, Osceola REDI is prepared to answer the next call for service.” Sue Ring, secretary of Osceola REDI.