The Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida was recently given a sizable donation to help expand hunger relief efforts.
The Florida Blue Foundation awarded a $300,000 grant to the nonprofit to help train healthcare workers on food insecurity.
The initiative, known as “Screen and Intervene: Connecting Food Insecure Patients to Resources,” is a three year collaboration between Second Harvest and three partners: Alliance for Community Health, the University of Central Florida and the Georgia Health Policy Center.
Local healthcare providers will learn to screen patients for risk factors that could indicate food insecurity so they can be directed to community resources.
Florida Blue Foundation Executive Director Susan Towler said affordable access to nutritious food is essential for good health. Because of the pandemic, Central Floridians who never relied on food assistance turned to Second Harvest for help providing nourishing meals to their families.
"But some in the community are still hesitant or may not realize the resources available to them,” Towler said. “Equipping health care providers with the tools to identify food insecurity and connect their patients to fresh food and needed groceries is critical to our mission of helping people and communities achieve better health.”
The program builds upon the work of the Health and Hunger Task Force, which was developed and introduced by Second Harvest in 2016, to learn how the food bank can work alongside community health care organizations to measurably impact community health and nutrition.
According to Second Harvest, one in seven people in Central Florida – and one in five children – are at risk of going to bed hungry on any given night.
The nonprofit says access to nutritious food is critical for maintaining good health because research shows many chronic illnesses can be effectively managed through proper nutrition.
“The goal is simple: to improve community health by using food as medicine,” Karen Broussard, chief community impact officer at Second Harvest, said. “Research shows that many chronic illnesses can be effectively managed through proper nutrition. This funding expands our ability to effectively collaborate with and educate additional health partners and continue fighting diet-related diseases in our community.”
For more information about Second Harvest and how to help hunger relief efforts, click here.