TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- Food insecurity and hunger may be on the decline throughout the state, but for the Big Bend, it's still a large problem. In fact, most of the counties within the Big Bend have a food insecurity higher than the state average.
Gadsden, Madison, and Leon counties are the three hungriest counties in Florida...the three counties with the highest rate of food insecurities, and during the summer it becomes harder to feed the community.
"All the kids that are on free and reduced lunch during the school year are no longer getting those meals," says Rick Minor, the CEO of Second Harvest of the Big Bend. "We surge in hunger during the summer months. We actually go to community centers to provide kids with meals during the summer months."
Many families have the luxury of seeing a fully stocked pantry whenever they get hungry. However, a lot of people within the Big Bend aren't as lucky and matters are only made worse by store closures.
"We've been really concerned about some of the closings that have happened recently," continues Minor. "The Winn-Dixie that just closed on the Southside a couple of months ago. These create food deserts where it's hard for families to get healthy food in their neighborhood."
Food insecurities within the Big Bend and Leon County have inspired others to help give back to the community in a number of ways, including Leadership Tallahassee who is in the midst of building "Help Shelves".
"The Help Shelf, which is help another, help yourself, is really meant to be something that can have food, nonperishable food, or other items you need for your home," explains Allie Fleming, a Leadership Tallahassee Graduate, Class 34. "Around the country, these petite pantries were coming up in either private residences, or in conjunction with programs and businesses."
The first wave of Help Shelves are expected to be unveiled in August throughout the entire community, including Southside and Frenchtown. Once these shelves are in place, those who are in need will be able to stop by and grab what they need from a bar of soap to a can of soup.
Leadership Tallaahssee will be stocking the first round of shelves with the hopes that it will inspire others in the community to donate and help fight food insecurity in the area.