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Fort Lauderdale, Fla. - October 19, 2022

An estimated 2.2 million Floridians lack access to healthy food, including just over 660,000 children, according to Feeding America. Today, the Florida Blue Foundation announced another major investment to address food insecurity in the state with $3.73 million in grants awarded to 10 community-based programs. 

The latest funding brings the total investment in food security programs from Florida Blue and its Foundation to more than $16 million over the last four years. 

“Healthy communities need healthy food. When people don’t have enough food or must choose inexpensive foods with little nutritional value, it can seriously impact their health and well-being. Each year, more than $4.2 billion in health care costs are associated with food insecurity in our state,” said Pat Geraghty, Florida Blue and GuideWell president and CEO. 

“The rising cost of food has only made this issue worse for our state. Florida Blue is focused on ensuring every person in Florida has reliable and affordable access to nutritious food and the knowledge of how to make it an enjoyable part of their daily lives,” said Geraghty  

The 10 nonprofit organizations receiving the latest $3.73 million in funding from the Florida Blue Foundation will use the grants for community-based food security initiatives that not only provide access to nutritional food but address obstacles to food security in their communities. 

“Food insecurity is a highly complex issue. Each community’s relationship and access to food is unique. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to this issue,” said Susan Towler, executive director of the Florida Blue Foundation. “These Florida Blue Foundation grants will fund programs that directly improve access to and quality of food security for people at the neighborhood level, particularly in communities with underserved, racial and ethnic minorities, and low-income populations. We selected these 10 organizations because we believe they can make a meaningful and lasting impact in their communities.”

Today’s announcement took place at the headquarters of one of the grant recipients, Hispanic Unity of Florida in Hollywood, whose $400,000 in funding will support its Comprando Rico y Sano (Buying Healthy and Delicious Foods) program. The program seeks to reduce food insecurity faced by diverse and multi-cultural working individuals and families in Broward County food deserts. As part of the program, community members participate in cooking classes and demonstrations to learn how to prepare tasty, healthy culturally relevant meals for their family. 

The other nine grant recipients from across the state include: 

  • Indian River County Department of Health – $381,000 – To build a countywide framework that utilizes the county Department of Health’s partnership network to improve nutrition and food security throughout the county, with particular attention to food deserts. 
  • Feeding Florida (Statewide) – $399,000 – To expand the Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) program that makes fresh, local produce more affordable and accessible to low-income families while supporting Florida’s farmers and enhancing local economies. 
  • House of Hope (Stuart) -- $328,000 – To serve food insecure individuals in Martin County through food distributions at their client choice pantries and food bank partner sites, nutrition education classes, comprehensive case management, and referrals for wraparound services.
  • Jewish Family and Community Services (Jacksonville) -- $380,000– To expand the Max Block Food Pantry to include satellite food pantries at two underserved schools in Jacksonville and provide nutrition and financial literacy education to the families served.
  • Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (Palm Beach County) -- $328,000 -- To increase capacity at the Jewish Family Services food pantry, increase the number of clients served, and provide nutrition education to food insecure families and seniors in Palm Beach County.
  • Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare Foundation -- $356,000 – To provide access to food and nutrition education to working, food insecure individuals in the Big Bend region through three components: income and education intervention; community educational seminars; and a community food security summit. 
  • Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA -- $356,000 – To provide a Veggie Van that meets the needs of food insecure seniors by providing nutritious produce and education, at no cost to clients, removing the barrier to healthy food options.
  • University Area Community Development Corporation (Tampa) -- $400,000 -- To expand access to healthy and nutritious food through free mobile food markets in the food insecure community of the University Area and provide education to the community on the elements of food sovereignty.   
  • Valencia College Foundation (Orlando) -- $399,000 – To expand and formalize existing food pantries on three campuses, provide healthy and nutritional foods for students and their families, and provide nutrition education to improve overall health.

About the Florida Blue Foundation  

The Florida Blue Foundation enables healthy communities by making grants, building coalitions and embracing solutions that create a meaningful impact in its communities. More than 8 million Floridians have received services as a result of its community investments since its 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

About Florida Blue   

Florida Blue, Florida’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield company, has been providing health insurance to residents of Florida for more than 75 years. Driven by its mission of helping people and communities achieve better health, the company serves more than 6 million members across the state. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., it is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.