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Désirée Ávila, REALTOR®

Oakland Park, HandsOn Broward and Farm Share Partner on Food Distribution Program


Vulnerable residents may, at times, face challenges that put them in difficult and heartbreaking situations. These individuals may lack access to basic resources like nutritious food. As a result, they may experience malnutrition, health problems, and a diminished quality of life.

This vulnerable population can include the elderly, children, and people with disabilities or chronic illnesses. In addition, the vulnerable may face other challenges in accessing the food they need, such as limited mobility or financial resources.

Luckily, some of Oakland Park’s most vulnerable residents are getting vital assistance thanks to a nutritious monthly food delivery program coordinated by the City through HandsOn Broward and Farm Share.

Nourishing Homebound Seniors With Food Distribution Program

On February 15, the City Commission approved the program, which will provide monthly meal delivery to approximately 100 homebound senior residents of Oakland Park.

The project isn’t new for Oakland Park residents though. In November and December 2022, the City began a pilot program with HandsOn Broward and Farm Share to assist in providing nutritious packaged food to approximately 100 homebound seniors. This successful collaboration resulted in 93 meals being delivered on November 19th, and 91 meals being delivered on December 17th.

The recipients were selected from the City’s Vulnerable Population Registry as well as referrals from churches within Oakland Park. After the November and December distributions, it was clear that it was not enough and a more concerted and consistent effort was needed.

Lessons Learned From The Pandemic

The need for the program became evident during the pandemic when seniors and other vulnerable individuals faced challenges with essential needs. From April 2020 through May 2021, Oakland Park partnered with Wilton Manors and Fort Lauderdale to host weekly food distributions at Mills Pond Park. Oakland Park also worked with Feeding South Florida to deliver food to homebound residents.

Inspired by the success of this iniative, the City launched the pilot program with HandsOn Broward and Farm Share. This successful collaboration in November, December, and February resulted in the delivery of 298 meals. Farm Share provided free food from its Oakland Park warehouse, and HandsOn Broward used its volunteer management software and advertising to help recruit volunteers to pack and deliver meals.

Food Distribution: A Recurrent Need for Our Community

“We realized there were many vulnerable seniors who were unable to travel to the distribution site due to mobility or financial challenges”, says Shannon Vezina, City of Oakland Park Public Information Officer. “We started a temporary delivery program to bring critical food supplies to homebound seniors in our community. When Farm Share opened a warehouse recently in our city, we partnered with them and HandsOn Broward to revisit the food delivery program to see if there was still a need in our community. The pilot program was a tremendous opportunity to provide food resources to those in need. It was such a success that we wanted to continue that effort to help our vulnerable seniors“, she adds.

In order to make everything work properly, HandsOn Broward is responsible for coordinating the activities to support the initiative. With the information provided by the City of Oakland Park, they contact participating residents prior to delivery days to ensure they will be home. 

In agreement with the scope disclosed in the agenda of the City Commission meeting on February 15th, HandsOn Broward will be in charge of:

  1. Volunteer Outreach, Recruitment, and Management;
  2. Project Management;
  3. Volunteer Data Tracking and Reporting.

According to Kristina DaSilva, HandsOn Broward Chief Operating Officer, the items vary from month to month depending on the donations received by Farm Share. She explains that the basics include a box of fresh produce, several nonperishables, a frozen chicken and a gallon of water. “Each delivery can provide several meals to each recipient”, Kristina continues.

The Three-Part Recipe for Successful Task Completion

The program is not a one man job, it requires the efforts of many people to ensure its success. In the case of the City of Oakland Park, HandsOn Broward, and Farm Share, their collaboration plays a pivotal role in the effective distribution of food. Each part plays a unique role in the process, from sourcing and supplying the food to coordinating volunteers and distributing the food to the community.

The collaboration between these groups is a testament to the power of partnerships in addressing social issues and providing support to those who need it most. “Partnerships like this are critical to creating pathways to better serve the needs of our residents”, Kristina declares. “Each organization provides valuable resources which, when combined, can increase our vulnerable residents’ access to nutritious, high-quality foods. We are proud to be a part of this effort to make a meaningful difference in the City of Oakland Park”, she completes.

Be a Recipient or a Volunteer at the Program

Homebound seniors interested in participating in the food delivery program are encouraged to sign up for the Broward County Vulnerable Population Registry. Click here to register online or call the Broward County Call Center at 311 or 954-831-4000.

Anyone interested in assisting with the food deliveries or other volunteer opportunities in Oakland Park should contact Steven Mattair in Parks and Leisure Services at 954-630-4494.


About the Writer


Desiree Avila


Désirée Ávila EDITOR, PUBLISHER, WRITER, PHOTOGRAPHER, REALTOR® Désirée Ávila has called Oakland Park her home for over 35 years. In addition to publishing, Désirée has been featured in print publications, locally and abroad. Désirée was an award winning teacher for 10 years and has a doctoral level education in Educational Technology. She is currently a licensed Florida REALTOR® and is committed to a high-level of professionalism. Désirée consistently professionally develops herself and has earned several different professional designations and certifications in real estate including the GRI, PSA, e-Pro, AHWD, SRS, ABR®, SRES and SFR®. She was also awarded the C2EX, Commitment to Excellence award by the National Association for Realtors (NAR). This award is given to REALTORS® that distinguish themselves for their commitment to excellence in the real estate industry. She is esteemed by her real estate colleagues and has consistently received 5 star reviews from her clients. Her philosophy about real estate is that being a REALTOR® is a way of teaching and helping people, and in the process a real estate transaction may occur, that is to say her foremost priority is and has always been about helping others. She is dedicated to her hometown of Oakland Park and works consistently on building and fostering a strong community. She is passionate about photography and loves to read books about history ; the more detail the better! In addition to English, Désirée is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, French and Italian.

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