Fighting food insecurity in Florida

UnitedHealthcare awards $150,000 in grants to address food insecurity in Florida communities

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Jan. 23, 2018) – UnitedHealthcare announced grants today totaling $150,000 to five local community organizations focused on expanding access to nutritional foods for Florida families and children, highlighting the issue during 2018 Children’s Week.

According to Feeding Florida, 3.3 million Floridians are food insecure, including 1.1 million children. The five grant recipients, which are each receiving $30,000, will help families in North, Central and South Florida with community and school-based programs that include mobile food pantries, learning gardens, farmer’s market access, as well as meal budgeting, planning and cooking demonstrations.

“3.3 million Floridians are food insecure, including 1.1 million children.”

  • Feeding Northeast Florida – The grant will be used to provide 4,000 low-income households in eight counties access to fresh, healthy food distributed through mobile food pantry events.
  • Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry – The grant will fund individualized programs for 100 low-income Jacksonville beach area residents coping with nutrition-related illness, as well as general healthy eating programs to 500 residents.
  • Feeding Children Everywhere – The grant will allow the organization to address access to fresh produce for families living in food desert communities in Orlando, Fort Myers, Gainesville, Miami, Pensacola, Tallahassee and Tampa.
  • The Education Fund – The grant will fund the expansion of the “Food Forest for Schools” initiative that provides vegetable gardening and harvest programs in Miami-Dade Public Schools.
  • Whole Child Leon – The grant will provide 100 low-income, food insecure families living in Leon County with healthy eating meal budgeting, cooking and gardening workshops as well as access to a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program  (SNAP)-accessible farmers market.

“The grants address the many facets of hunger by providing fresh fruits and vegetables directly to families living in food deserts.”

“Our partnerships with these organizations target a significant health challenge in our state – ensuring children have the food they need to grow and be healthy,” said Michael Lawton, CEO of the UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Florida. “The grants address the many facets of hunger by providing fresh fruits and vegetables directly to families living in food deserts, as well as nutrition education to households across the state.”

Lawton introduced the grant recipients at the state Capitol during Florida’s annual Children’s Week, which supports children’s causes by bringing hundreds of organizations, families and school children together. Children’s Week is an annual event held during the Florida legislative session that raises awareness for access to education and healthcare, affordable childcare, nutrition and other childhood issues.

Dave Green, CEO of Feeding Children Everywhere, one of the grant recipients, said many people in the state struggle to feed their families three meals a day, while others don’t have access to fresh produce. “They, instead, fill that void with low-nutrition, high-calorie products. In collaboration with partners like UnitedHealthcare, we are filling gaps for families in need – whether it’s fighting hunger or preventing obesity down the road.”

According to 2017 America’s Health Rankings, Florida ranks No. 14 in the nation for obesity with 27.4 percent of adults considered obese.

“Getting children off to a solid start by providing them with nutritious foods will go a long way toward addressing this health issue,” Lawton said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to support the work of these organizations, each with a unique approach to tackling hunger and putting nourishing food on the table.”

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