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Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and other local leaders held a press conference Saturday urging Congress to extend a stimulus package that includes funding for food distribution efforts.
City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, and Miami Beach Commissioner David Richardson participated in the event, which was held on 22nd Street and Collins Avenue.
Levine Cava, quarantining due to her COVID-19 diagnosis, attended the news conference virtually on Zoom.
“Tens of thousands of people across Miami-Dade County are literally at the breaking point trying to get by,” Levine Cava said, adding that South Florida is ranked the most food insecure metro-area in the country.
Levine-Cava said the federally-funded CARES Act has been a lifeline, helping 100,000 families in Miami Beach put food on the table as well as help with rent assistance and business relief. But she said more aid is needed, namely because South Florida’s tourism industry has been hard-hit by the pandemic.
“We need these stimulus funds now more than ever,” she said.
City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez pointed out that demand for help is greater than supply, noting how many families capitalized on the city’s grocery gift card program.
“We need all the help that we can get,” Suarez said.
Richardson explained resources to distribute food are already beginning to wind down, just as the number of COVID-19 infections are on the rise in the area.
“We’re seeing shortages, because, as I mentioned, we’re in phase 4 of the funding under the CARES Act that, you know, kept extending…It started June 1 and it’s now gone through Dec. 31. The supply that we are getting for phase 4 is less than the supply that was available under phase 3,” Richardson said.
Gelber described not being able to offer residents the basic life necessity “a disgrace.”
“I’m obviously very frustrated. I’m here today because we’re very frustrated,” Gelber said. “You know I was at one of David’s food distribution a couple weeks ago and I remember how many people you had to turn away, and that’s just like a steak through your heart.”
Richardson says Miami-Dade has held about 188 food distribution events since March and have given out about $5 million worth of food to needy people.
“Don’t make these people think that they have to wait for a vote on the last minute and hope that they’ll have a meal the next day,” Gelber said.
The event follows a Friday news conference in which newly-elected mayor Levine-Cava voiced concerns over rising COVID-19 hospitalization rates.
This is a developing story and will be updated.