TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Second Harvest of the Big Bend food bank announced it is receiving $100,000 from The Humana Foundation to assist with mobile food pantries in Madison, Jackson and Taylor counties.
Second Harvest says the investment will help improve access to nutritious food by providing direct assistance to rural communities, including black households, disproportionately affected by hunger.
Madison County is one of three Florida counties designated by the USDA as having persistent poverty among both children and adults, with a poverty rate of 28.2 percent, and a child poverty rate of 43.3 percent. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences "Pandemic Vulnerability Index,” Madison County ranks in the top 12 percent nationally.
In Taylor County, nearly 1 in 3, or 28.1 percent, Taylor County children live in poverty. About 37 percent of blacks and 16 percent of whites live in poverty.
In Jackson County, according to the Florida Department of Health, 5.8 percent of those testing positive for COVID-19 are hospitalized; of those 42percent (100) cases are fatal. The unusually high fatality rate is an outcome of poor healthcare in a rural county. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences "Pandemic Vulnerability Index,” Jackson County ranks in the top 4 percent nationally.
“Throughout our response to the health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, mobile food pantries have become a critical solution to helping us reach our neighbors in need. We are grateful to The Humana Foundation for supporting our efforts of expanding mobile food pantries to better serve rural communities, including black households, that experience high rates of food insecurity,” Second Harvest said in a statement.
With this grant, Second Harvest’s impact in targeted rural counties will provide enough food assistance in rural counties for 400,000 meals to rural families in need.
“Improving food security is one of The Humana Foundation’s core areas of focus. In communities where nutritious foods are inaccessible due to proximity, financial circumstances, and other barriers, this gap leads to preventable chronic diet-related conditions like diabetes and heart disease. The Humana Foundation is proud to continue our partnership with Feeding America as we work to achieve greater health equity and our shared goal of ensuring that everyone has the nourishment necessary to achieve and sustain positive health and well-being outcomes,” said Walter Woods, CEO of The Humana Foundation.
Mobile food pantries are a promising solution for addressing challenges, such as distributing foods that are more perishable and reaching underserved communities. Second Harvest has been able to adapt mobile pantry programs to adhere to CDC guidelines and reach communities in need.
To learn more about how you can join the fight to end hunger, visit www.fightinghunger.org.