“I got the love of God,” said Manuel Lizardi as bags of groceries were loaded into his car. Lizardi and his wife came to Catholic Charities of Central Florida for immigration assistance on Friday, Dec. 9 when they were told about the Market and Resource Fair taking place at the nearby Knights of Columbus Hall. Receiving a health screening, bags of produce and non-perishable items and information on senior programs and SNAP benefits, Lizardi called the event, “a miracle of God.”
The Market was hosted by Table Sixty, a group of concerned social service agencies including Catholic Charities of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank that are developing new approaches to the problem of senior hunger and food instability.
“We are focusing on the root causes of the situation with seniors and identifying ways to preemptively solve food instability,” explained Derrick Clow, Catholic Charities food pantry manager. An analysis of census data has shown that the Catholic Charities office is located among one of the poorest populations of seniors in Orange County.
In addition to the groceries, resources, and screenings, Terah Barrios, a chef and nutritional educator from Second Harvest Food Bank provided a food demonstration to teach guests how to make a healthy meal on a budget. She provided recipe cards for families to recreate her dish and others at home.
“I got a lot out of coming here today and I learned something different – how to prepare something very healthy,” said Maria Ortiz. “It’s difficult to make healthy foods, sometimes the money is not there. It’s helpful to come to this event and find out what’s out there that can help people.”
Luis Colon agreed. A retired veteran, Colon is looking for work to help supplement his family’s income. “Retirement is not like it used to be. I’m a veteran and your benefits just barely make it for the month. You have to try and make ends meet.”
Clow said that Catholic Charities hopes to regularly host these market and resource fairs to better serve the needs of area seniors. For more information, visit www.cflcc.org or contact Derrick Clow at 407-658-1818, Derrick.email@example.com.