PHOTO COURTESY SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK THIS GOES THERE — Volunteers at Second Harvest sort fresh produce to distribute.

Florida Blue Foundation, the philanthropic arm of health insurer Florida Blue, recently awarded a $300,000 grant to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida to expand hunger relief efforts. The funding will provide training to local health care providers to screen patients for risk factors that could indicate food insecurity so they can be directed to community resources, according to a news release.

Second Harvest’s data shows that one in seven Central Floridians — and one in five children — are at risk of going to bed hungry on any given night.

Affordable access to nutritious food is critical for maintaining good health.

The foundation’s funding will support a three-year collaborative “Screen and Intervene: Connecting Food Insecure Patients to Resources” initiative between Second Harvest and three partners: Alliance for Community Health, the University of Central Florida, and the Georgia Health Policy Center.

“Because of the pandemic, Central Floridians who never relied on food assistance turned to Second Harvest for help providing nourishing meals to their families. But some in the community are still hesitant or may not realize the resources available to them,” Susan Towler, Jacksonville-based Florida Blue Foundation’s executive director, said in the release. “Equipping health care providers with the tools to identify food insecurity and connect their patients to fresh food and needed groceries is critical to our mission of helping people and communities achieve better health.”

PHOTO COURTESY SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK
GET YOUR GREEN BEANS HERE! — A volunteer holds bags of green beans at a Second Harvest community distribution event.

The program builds upon the work of the Health and Hunger Task Force, which was developed and introduced by Second Harvest in 2016 to learn how the food bank can work alongside community health care organizations to measurably impact community health and nutrition.

“The goal is simple: to improve community health by using food as medicine,” Karen Broussard, chief community impact officer at Second Harvest, said in the news release. “Research shows that many chronic illnesses can be effectively managed through proper nutrition. This funding expands our ability to effectively collaborate with and educate additional health partners and continue fighting diet-related diseases in our community.”

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida secures and distributes food and grocery products to approximately 550 local nonprofit feeding programs throughout Central Florida. Second Harvest is distributing enough food for a quarter of a million meals every day to the six-county service area, which includes West Volusia.

To learn more about Second Harvest and how to help hunger relief efforts, visit www.FeedHopeNow.org.

The Florida Blue Foundation enables healthy communities by making grants, building coalitions and embracing solutions that create a meaningful impact in communities. More than 6.5 million Floridians have received services as a result of the foundation’s community investments since its founding in 2001.

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.

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