Pasco food assistance program postponed days before site was to open

Event postponed to Nov. 5
Posted at 6:40 PM, Oct 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-18 18:40:15-04

Reinalda Rivera drove 70 miles from Citrus County to the Land O’ Lakes Recreation Center Tuesday to scout the place out for the Food For Florida event, but she showed up to nothing.

“How are you feeling about all this?” reporter Erik Waxler asked. 
“Sick! I’m going home,” Rivera said.

“You’ve had enough?” Waxler asked her.
“You better believe it,” she replied. 

Rivera said a five-day power outage after Hurricane Irma cost her about $600 worth of groceries.

“Sunday at 10’clock the lights shut down," said Rivera. 

But she missed the Food For Florida event in Citrus County because she said she doesn’t have internet and never heard about it.

She said she was directed to Pasco. The problem, officials moved Pasco County’s Food for Florida event.

A letter from DCF to Pasco County administrator Dan Biles said everyone agreed the Land O’ Lakes Recreation Complex was the best location for the anticipated turnout. But then five days before the site was to open, Pasco officials changed their mind.

The Sheriff’s Office said security concerns for managing big crowds at the rec center led to the change. They’ve seen the back-ups in other counties, and realized similar back-ups down Collier Parkway would probably go all the way out to State 54.

County commissioners got dozens of emails from people that live around the area. Also HOA’s in the area. They were all concerned that if the event was there, it would cause chaos.

“We have it backed up on a normal day, so we were all concerned how the kids were going to get to school and about the kids who play sports here,” said resident Angela Brunton.

The new location is planned for the Pasco County Fairgrounds in Dade City, although a contract still has to be signed with DCF.

It’s scheduled to open November 5. That will be about two months after Hurricane Irma came through.

As for Rivera, she’s done driving and says Dade City is just too far for her to go.

“I’m done. I won’t go to take care of that. I will find a way to live,” Rivera said.

Food for Florida will also have sites in Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Desoto Counties.

To check dates and locations visit:

Individuals are encouraged to fill out the initial application for assistance online no later than the day before visiting a Food for Florida site. Click here to find the application.