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KEY WEST, May 8, 2020 – Throughout this COVID-19 pandemic emergency, there has been no shortage of Florida Keys residents stepping up to help their neighbors with food giveaways for those in need.
They include State Attorney Dennis Ward, who spends his Thursdays helping the Islamorada Moose and the SOS Foundation give out bags of groceries that can feed a family of four for a week; and in Key West, State Attorney’s Office Investigator Johnny Hernandez, who has expanded his volunteer efforts as the community need has grown.
Hernandez has volunteered with the Metropolitan Community Church’s Cooking With Love outreach program for 15 years. Pre-COVID-19, Cooking With Love provided about 180 meal deliveries each Saturday to community-based housing complexes for seniors and individual homes. Depending on the need of the day, he’s cooked, packaged the food, delivered it or cleaned the kitchen.
In COVID-19, that was expanded to Mondays and Wednesdays, as well. Each meal generally provides a protein, a starch, fresh fruit and vegetables. The program now provides more than 150 meals each Monday and Wednesday and more than 300 on Saturdays. The restaurants Azur and Tavern N’ Town provide support through chefs volunteering their time.
“President Kennedy said, ‘For of those to whom much is given much is required.’ So to me, helping Cooking With Love is very rewarding and since this COVID epidemic, the need in the community is greater,” Hernandez said. “Therefore, I thought to myself if I could give a few extra hours of my time, why shouldn’t I. I am very fortunate to have a job and there are so many people hurting financially that I just had to step up a little more.”