Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced Thursday a $100,000 Walmart Foundation grant that will help combat food insecurity in rural communities in Florida.
The Living Healthy in Florida organization will deliver the grant to farmers and food banks in areas impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding will be provided to food banks and pantries that do not receive traditional federal assistance in Flagler, Highlands, Levy, Putnam, Union, Walton, and Palm Beach Counties.
“Despite Florida growing over 300 commodities and enough fresh produce to feed 150 million Americans, nearly 3 million Floridians suffer from food insecurity, including 850,000 children – and this was before the public health and economic crises of COVID-19,” Fried said. “We’ve had to get creative to help fight chronic hunger, and that includes public-private partnerships, particularly in rural areas. That’s why we’re so grateful to the Walmart Foundation for their generous support, providing $100,000 to rural food banks and farmers that will help Florida’s families in need. This partnership is a great example of government, the private sector, and nonprofits coming together to serve our neighbors during a crisis.”
The selected food banks include First United Methodist Church of Bunnell in Flagler County, Heartland Food Bank in Highlands County, The Children’s Table in Levy County, South Putnam Church in Putnam County, Food For Thought in Walton County, and Faith Hope Love Charity, Inc in Palm Beach County.
The grant packages will help provide operational and infrastructure improvements.
It will also provide coaching to recipients from UF/IFAS public health specialists for nutrition education efforts.
“As a company, Walmart has made a commitment to support organizations meeting critical needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Director of Public Affairs & Government Relations for Walmart Monesia T. Brown. “Our support of Living Healthy in Florida will be twofold – saving locally grown produce and increasing access to food in our communities. We know farmers, especially those in Florida, have seen a significant impact to their business during this challenging time. At the same time, our state has seen an increased need for access to nutritious food for our neighbors, friends and family. Over the last several months, our community has come together in an extraordinary way. Walmart is proud to support Floridians during this time of great need.”
The grant program will also partner with the Center for Sustainable Agricultural Excellence and Conservation, a nonprofit farmer network that will provide produce boxes to food banks for families.
“As a fourth-generation farmer in Florida, growing in greenhouses since the 1970s, we believe that we can change the hunger landscape by putting food directly in the hands of communities that need it the most, said Angela TenBroeck, founder and president of the Center for Sustainable Agricultural Excellence and Conservation.”