Category: Produce

Assistance during the Government Shut Down

Dear Partner Agencies,

As I am sure you are aware, the government shutdown is entering its 3rd week. This shutdown affects all “non-essential” federal government employees, TSA agents, park rangers, congressional staff etc. Many of these furloughed employees have been working without pay, which is a tremendous strain on them and their families. We are hearing of an increase in need for people in our community to put food on their table. Many of these folks have not faced this situation before.

Please be sensitive to the needs and feelings of these individuals. This may be their first visit to a food pantry and they may not feel comfortable. We suggest that you be flexible with any intake processes you have, especially regarding income since this is a population that may not normally qualify for assistance.

We are monitoring this situation closely and are very aware of the potential hardship that may occur as your agency attempts to feed those in need. We are currently sending any referrals that we receive at the food bank to our Food Finder on our website that will direct them to a pantry or feeding program near them. If this situation is not resolved soon, we will explore additional ways to support you and your agency to provide relief to these clients.

We have a special section on our website with information about this situation. You can check back for updates. The current info is pasted below.

If you are seeing an increase in clients, please notify us immediately so that we can stay on top of this situation and evaluate next steps in supporting you.

Thank you for all that you do for those in need.

Government Shutdown 2019

If you have been affected by the government shutdown please reach out to us for help.

  • Online: Visit our Food Finder tool online to find your local food pantries.  
  • Phone: Call our main number 407-295-1066 to receive a list of food pantries.
  • Visit our community resources page if you need other types of assistance. 

Who does this affect?

The shutdown affects all “non-essential” federal government employees. This means people like TSA agents, park rangers, Congressional staff, staff for whole departments, like USDA.

Because the shutdown has lasted nearly 3 weeks, many of these “furloughed” employees have been working without pay. There’s a lot of uncertainty about how these individuals will be able to pay rent, or how they’ll be able to put food on the table. Approximately 800,000 federal workers and federal contractors have been furloughed without pay for an indefinite period, and it is expected that paychecks for federal workers and contractors will not arrive as scheduled.

It will also affect the 710,000 Central Floridians who use SNAP to put food on their tables. SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is funded by the federal government and faces a February deadline for funding.

Other programs such as WIC and Child Nutrition Programs will have funding through February too.

How we will help

Since SNAP (formaly called Food Stamps) has funding through February, we won’t see an immediate impact for this program, but we are already seeing an uptick in searches for feeding partners to find food. We’ve received a few questions from furloughed employees who need resources to assist them during the government shutdown.

We’ve estimated that if this shutdown continues for a few months, we’d have a roughly $500,000 shortfall due to government contracts such as Head Start, after school meals, and others. Once the shutdown ends, we’ll be reimbursed for our social entrepreneurship services.

This equals to approximately 1 million meals that will disappear from Central Florida.

We will not be cutting any services and we will always find a way to continue to support our feeding partners in Central Florida

Food Safety and Fresh Produce

MangoesFresh fruits and vegetables are a highlight of summertime. There are many different fruits and vegetables in-season during the summer months, and there’s many ways to incorporate them into your snacks and meals.

It is important to make certain that fruits and vegetables are handled with care in order to provide the greatest amount of nutrition and flavor.

Here are some tips to consider:


  • Do not distribute damaged or heavily bruised produce.
  • If the produce is not washed before distributing, instruct those who are receiving it to wash before consuming.
  • Do not chop fruits or vegetables on the same cutting board as raw meats. The same utensils used to cut meats should not be used to cut produce, unless the utensils have been cleaned and sanitized properly.


Potatoes, Potatoes

PotatoesThis time of year you’ll find potatoes galore in the warehouse!

Potatoes are delicious and packed with nutrition. This starchy vegetable is a rich source of Vitamin C. This antioxidant vitamin is needed for the growth and repair of tissues in your body. Vitamin C also plays a key role in wound healing.

With the skin left on, potatoes are a good source of dietary fiber—which promotes a feeling of fullness and aids in digestion.

Potatoes are so versatile. You can eat them for breakfast with other vegetables, eggs and/or your favorite protein. For lunch or dinner, you can bake them quickly in the microwave and use them as a substitute for another grain or starch. Top your baked potato with chili or lentils, Greek yogurt and chives, or broccoli and cheese!

A favorite recipe around the community is our Neighborhood Potato Salad. If you’d like Chef Terah to visit your location and share this delicious potato salad with your clients, contact her at 407-514-1057 or

Written by Jamie Williams, Keiser University Dietetic Intern

Encourage your clients to try this recipe the next time you distribute potatoes!

Potato Hash

Serves: 4-6


All Things Pumpkin

All things pumpkinIt’s that time of year. Pumpkins are everywhere, including the Agency Mart!

Pumpkin is packed with nutritional power, making it a great vegetable choice for you and your clients. One cup of cooked pumpkin provides less than 50 calories, and is a rich source of beta-carotene.

Diets rich in beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Beta-carotene also offers protection against heart disease, as well as some degenerative effects of aging.

Storing Pumpkins

If stored properly, pumpkins can be stored for quite some time. If stored in a cool, dark place they may store up to 2 months.

Chef Terah made a delicious pumpkin soup. This simple recipe can be made with or without cow’s milk. If you try it, please let us know what you think!

Easy Peasy Pumpkin Soup (Dairy Free)


  • 1 small pumpkin (2 pounds)
  • 1 onion or shallot
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • Salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste


Cut pumpkin in half, remove seeds, and place cut sides down on cookie sheet or roasting pan. Slice onion or shallot in half, place cut side down on same cookie sheet or roasting pan.

Roast the pumpkin and onion at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until fork tender. Allow to cool.

Once cooled, scrape out pumpkin from shell, and put in blender with onion or shallot.

Add the can of coconut milk and 1 cup of broth to the blender.

Blend until smooth.

Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Serve hot.

Don’t forget to save the pumpkin seeds! Remove the stringy pumpkin, wash, and toss seeds with oil and salt. Lay seeds flat on a baking sheet and roast till they start to turn golden brown, about 10-20 minutes. Stirring occasionally.