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Frenchtown Neighborhood Improvement Association seeks grant to address food insecurity

Posted at 6:21 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 18:21:30-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Second Harvest of the Big Bend says since the start of the pandemic, 150,000 people don't always know where their next meal is coming from.

Right now 2.8 million Floridians lack access to healthy food; 800,000 are children.

The Frenchtown Neighborhood Improvement Association is hoping a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture will make it easier to put healthier food on the tables in the neighborhood.

Marques Williams visits the Help Shelf pantry in Frenchtown once a week. It's one of the few places with available food people can find in the area.

"I heard about it through word of mouth. The help shelf here with the ways things are going now with finances, if you need food or a snack, it's right here," said Williams.

Frenchtown is in a food desert. That means it lacks walkable options for affordable and nutritious grocery and food. The Frenchtown Heritage Hub provides many of the options. KitchenShare allows restaurants to use the commercial kitchen space.

Through a partnership with Second Harvest, there's a food drive every first Friday of the month. It's also where you can find the Frenchtown Farmer's Market every Saturday morning.

"When we gave out food, people were walking and they didn't have any way to take advantage of it. Some of us walked and took their things. We helped them carry it," said Cheryl Collier-Brown.

Cheryl Collier Brown is a part of the Frenchtown Heritage Hub. To help bring more fresh produce into the neighborhood, there's also a community garden in the back.

"We have vegetables and things are growing. we have big plans to expand it and put more fruits and vegetables in our garden," said Collier-Brown.

But the small garden out back isn't enough to feed a neighborhood with a growing need.

Now, the Frenchtown Neighborhood Improvement Association is working on a United States Department of Agriculture grant.

The grant would help the association work with farmers and food-related industries to bring better options to this community.

The main goal of the grant is to partner with local farmers and other food-related industries to sell their produce in low-access areas with low-income homes.

"It's going to be very instrumental to conquering the need to dismantle the term food desert here in Frenchtown," she said.

If approved, FNIA could get up to $400,000 over four years.