Cars line up to receive free food in Miami Springs

City staff members Jeremiah Diaz, Danny Valdez and Michael Mills load a car with food. (Justin Mendiola/SFMN)

After watching his neighbors struggle to put food on the table due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one Miami Springs resident decided to take matters into his own hands. 

Mike Edwards, the vice president of MacEdwards Produce & Company, partnered with the city to give away fresh produce to anyone who needs it.

Since January, the drive-through food distribution has been handing out hundreds of boxes of fresh food at the Community Center parking lot and will continue to do so until April. The distribution runs from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. every Thursday and is open to all comers. 

Edwards said his company, like many others, was hit hard by the pandemic. 

“Everything closed when the pandemic hit,” said Edwards. “The business was basically destroyed.”

 Last November, federal officials approved MacEdwards Produce & Company for the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Through this program, the USDA has partnered with national, regional and local distributors to purchase up to $6 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat. The food is then packaged and delivered to food banks, community organizations and other non-profits. 

“No matter where you are from, you have been affected.” he said, “We provide refrigerated delivery, so our food is fresh and safe.”

Miami Springs was recently under fire after the city council approved $140,000 in grocery-store gift cards for residents. This left out the 100 or so people experiencing homelessness for lack of identification. City council members did not respond to questions about whether those without cars would be able to receive food. 

Miami Springs City Manager William Alonso said the program has been very popular. 

“Every week we have 500 boxes of food delivered to us to give away,” said Alonso, “and by 10:30 it’s usually all gone. 

Councilwoman Maria Mitchell said the food drive helps people get through the hard times. 

Long-time resident since 1985 and city councilwoman since 2017, Maria Mitchell highlighted why events like these are so important. 

“Even if you have enough food to feed your family today, you still need to feed them tomorrow,” she said. 

For his part, Edwards, who has been a resident of the city since the ‘50s, said he just wanted to try and help while he could.

“While I have the resources available to me, I want to make sure our community got taken care of,” he said, “it’s done a lot of good and the support from Miami Springs has been a lot.”

Justin Mendiola is majoring in communications, with a specialization in journalism. He was an ambassador for the Miami Marlins for four years and loves the visual arts.