Florida Blue donates $3.3M to community organizations battling food insecurity

The adage “you are what you eat” seems to be the operative mindset behind $3.3 million in grants being awarded to nine community organizations by Florida Blue through its Florida Blue Foundation.

The term “healthy food” appears eight times in the approximately 640-word press release announcing the effort.

GuideWell and Florida Blue President and CEO Pat Geraghty said in the press release that “we know that hunger and malnutrition can have detrimental impacts on people’s health and well-being. Supporting organizations that improve access to affordable, healthy food allows us to better serve our communities and provide people with more opportunities to live a healthy life.”

The $3.3 million grant brings to $14.5 million the amount of funding the Florida Blue Foundation has invested in food security programs over the last four years.

Susan Towler, the foundation’s executive director, said in the press release that “by supporting programs that make healthy food more accessible and affordable in communities across our state, the Florida Blue Foundation and our partners are meaningfully improving the health and well-being of children, families, and communities.”

The nine not-for-profit organizations receiving a portion of the $3.3 million hope to use the funds to bolster community-based food security initiatives that go beyond merely providing healthy meals.

For instance, one of the grantees—United Against Poverty in Indian River County—plans to use the funds to add more refrigerated trucks to its fleet, allowing the not-for-profit to expand its ability to distribute more food for longer distances in the south and central regions of Florida.

Then there’s UCOM UrbanServ in Duval County, which hopes to use the funding to bolster its mission of providing meals to older individuals with limited or no access to transportation. The program contains an educational component in which the benefits of healthy food will be explained as well as meal preparation.

The seven other not-for-profit organizations are:

  • FBH Community in Volusia County, which wants to provide boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as host food fairs for individuals in midtown Daytona, one of Florida’s poorest ZIP codes.
  • The Police Athletic League of Jacksonville in Duval County, which wants to provide food to the families of children in PAL’s educational programs and teach best food preparation methods.
  • The Regional Food Bank of Northeast Florida – Feeding Northeast Florida, also in Duval County, which wants to bolster its mobile market program to allow individuals to choose their own foods in their own neighborhoods.
  • The Chapman Partnership in Miami-Dade County, which wants to deliver hot meals, healthy snacks and food vouchers to the homeless.
  • Treasure Coast Food Bank in St. Lucie County, which will use the funding for its Market Fresh on the Move program that acts as a grocery store on wheels for low-income families.
  • The Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida in Lee County, which wants to use the money for its mobile, refrigerated, one-aisle grocery store geared toward individuals who face transportation problems.
  • Well Incorporated in Hillsborough County, which, along with the Coalition of Community Gardens, wants to expand its program into the area around the University of South Florida. The program teaches individuals how to create home gardens and host events to distribute food as well as provides education about food production and meal preparation.

In this way, the Florida Blue Foundation says it’s strengthening food infrastructure and systems that have so far provided about 181 million meals to individuals in Florida experiencing food insecurity.