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All Faiths Food Bank is organizing two mass food distributions in Sarasota County this month to help residents impacted by COVID-19. The events will take place in the parking lots at CoolToday Park in Venice on May 9 and Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota on May 16. Both distributions—which are first come, first-served—will begin at 9 a.m. and continue until 2 p.m. or until food runs out. The food bank has purchased nearly 10,000 gallons of milk from Dakin Dairy Farms and produce from local Florida farmers, obtained with support from Feeding Florida (the Florida food bank association); these items will be distributed at both events. The stadiums have donated the use of their facilities for the food distributions. The National Guard will provide on-site assistance with the massive effort.

The event is planned for people who are recently unemployed or impacted by COVID-19. Florida led the nation in unemployment claims last week, with more than 180,000; more than 900,000 jobless Floridians have submitted claims since mid-March. The food bank expects to serve as many as 4,600 community members at each location; it has taken special measures to remove barriers to assistance, and there will be no registration or approval process, and no collection of information on-site.  Social distancing and no-touch strategies will be observed, and food will be distributed via drive-thru and placed directly into the trunks of cars. Attendees will also receive information about additional food bank locations where groceries are available.

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