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Leon County's Breaking Bread Together community conversation tackles food insecurity

Posted at 7:03 PM, May 31, 2022

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Nearly 68,000 people in Leon County are food insecure; a number that continues to grow as inflation impacts our community.

It's that need that's inspiring the Breaking Bread Together: Neighborhood Dinner & Conversation on Tackling Food Insecurity, hosted by Leon County, the Children's Services Council of Leon County, and Second Harvest of the Big Bend.

The groups holding the community conversation dinners say active listening is the key. They say the quickest path to seeing change is by everyone talking out what could work.

The team identified the 9 most food insecure parts of the county. That includes Frenchtown, where Tamar McCoy lives. She says the Help Shelf is a much needed resource in her community.

"It's hard to get to the stores with low income and low funds. It's something quick if you need it. It's there," she said.

The blue box on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is a staple for Tamar McCoy. Filled with shelf stable groceries, she says she stops by frequently to see what it has to offer.

"It's a help for the community itself. With people who have to wait for certain days to get their income, you're more than welcome to come to the shelf," said McCoy.

Just over 50% of the people living in Frenchtown are food insecure. Leon County Director Office of Human Services & Community Partnerships Shington Lamy says Frenchtown and communities like it deserve a chance to have their voices heard.

"We've been in 7 neighborhoods so far. The neighborhoods we identified. They're the ones with the highest food insecurity rates," he said.

Sitting at the table, business owners, community leaders, and everyday people. Everyone is focused on what it'll take to get rid of food insecurity in their neighborhoods.

"We listen in the moment. In the moment we talk through and say what are the things we know are actionable at the local level?" said Lamy.

Ideas from the table include extended access to existing food pantries, more ways to get fresh and healthy foods, and where those foods can be found.

The next question from many: when they'll actually see the change.

"Our opportunity now is to figure out how we can bring those options back before the county commission," said Lamy.

Those changes would directly impact the more than 16,000 Leon County children struggling with food insecurity. It's why Children Services Council of Leon County is a part of the conversation. Cecka Rose Green, Executive Director Children Services Council of Leon County says these conversations will give her team insights on addressing multiple issues related to the well being of Leon County children.

"Food instability is a big piece of everything. It's a part of children being educated, their mental and physical health and it's a part of having stable and nurturing communities," she said.

Changes from these conversations will happen at county commission meetings as well. Right now, the three groups involved are working on what the local government can do to bring more access into communities like Frenchtown.

There's two more community dinners left. June 1 at the Lincoln Center from 5:30 P.M.- 7. The final dinner is June 2 at the Tallahassee Spanish SDA Church from 6:00 P.M.- 7:30.

You can find more information here.