The Florida Blue Foundation, the philanthropic foundation for the state’s Blue Cross Blue Shield plan, has made a $3.8 million investment focused on advancing food security in innovative ways across the state for Florida’s children, families and seniors.
Twelve nonprofit organizations share in the investment, which will support community-based programs that directly improve access to healthy food, nutritional education and support services. More than 3.1 million Floridians struggle to afford nutritious food, and about one in five children in the state lack proper nutrition, according to a study by the Feeding America network. The prevalence of food insecurity among Black and Hispanic households is more than two times greater than non-Hispanic white households.
“Tackling the issue of food insecurity in our communities is a fundamental key to good health,” said Pat Geraghty, Florida Blue president and CEO. “The economic and social impact it has on our neighbors across the state cannot be overemphasized. The health problems stemming from poor nutrition can be costly and devastating. More than $4.2 billion in health care costs are associated with food insecurity in Florida each year. We must work to mitigate these costs for our fellow Floridians.”
The 12 grantees serve communities throughout the state, including:
Jewish Community Services of SFL – Hungry Hearts: Nutrition Support for Families & Seniors (Miami-Dade County)
The grant will allow JCS to expand its capacity to serve Miami-Dade County families through its Kosher Food Bank and for seniors through its congregate meal sites, which closed in 2020 due to the pandemic. Families will also receive assistance in applying for programs such as SNAP and other appropriate support services. Seniors will be provided hot lunch and will have the opportunity to participate in interactive programs and activities at congregate meal sites. Recipient of a $300,000 grant over three years.
Metropolitan Ministries – Inspire Hope program (Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas counties)
This grant will provide 7,000 food boxes (252,000 meals) and supportive services to 5,250 families in target neighborhoods. Community Navigators connect families to financial assistance for rent/utilities, SNAP assistance, and resources for housing, health care, transportation, and education/employment. The overall goal is to reduce childhood poverty rates and food insecurity by bringing services and resources directly into under-resourced, high-poverty neighborhoods so that access to food and services is less burdensome. Recipient of a $400,000 grant over four years.
Muslim American Social Services – Food as Medicine program (Duval County)
The program will serve the clients of MASS Clinic by screening all patients for food insecurity and providing food to those identified as food insecure. MASS Clinic will also connect food insecure patients with appropriate resources to address their needs. This program will include a four-week nutrition education program for clinic patients identified as both food insecure and having chronic poorly controlled diabetes or hypertension with a goal of better disease self-management. Recipient of a $300,000 grant over four years.
Additional organizations from across the state will receive grants from the Florida Blue Foundation ranging from $300,000 to $400,000 to address food security needs in the communities they serve, including programs that:
- Restore a popular neighborhood market and provide nutritional education
- Provide free lunches to students in the summer
- Screen for food insecure patients in medical practices to connect them with local resources for assistance
- Provide access to mobile pantries and 24/7 accessibility to temperature-controlled grocery lockers in communities of high need
- Build urban vegetable farms and create sustainable local food ecosystems
The $3.8 million investment is part of an ongoing commitment by the Florida Blue Foundation to address food security across the state. From November 2020 to October 2021, the Florida Blue Foundation’s food security grantees served a total of 246,982 individuals and provided over 59.9 million meals. In 2021, the Foundation’s aim was to have 20% of grantees report to the USDA Food Security Survey they were food secure after receiving support. Thanks to the Foundation’s efforts, more than 30% of grantees reported they became food secure.
About Florida Blue Foundation
Florida Blue Foundation enables healthy communities by making grants, building coalitions and embracing solutions that create a meaningful impact in our communities. More than 8 million Floridians have received services as a result of our community investments since our founding in 2001. The Florida Blue Foundation’s programs are focused on advancing mental well-being, improving health equity, impacting food security and addressing systemic racism and resulting health disparities. Florida Blue Foundation is a trade name of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation, Inc., an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, please visit www.FloridaBlueFoundation.com.Source: PR Newswire