SARASOTA, Fla. (March 2, 2022) – In an effort to reduce food insecurity and provide access to healthy food for low-income children and their families, All Faiths Food Bank has been awarded a grant of $300,000 from the Florida Blue Foundation. The grant will enhance the food bank’s pediatric hunger screening efforts, initiate a new Food Rx program, and support evaluation. The funds will be distributed over a three-year period.
In 2019, AFFB initiated a three-year pilot – funded in full by the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation – partnering with health care providers to screen families with children. Using the validated screening tool Hunger Vital Sign, the health care partner screens families with children for food insecurity. Positive screens are referred to All Faiths Food Bank and clients are contacted by one of the organization’s benefits specialists for additional assessment, connection with food resources, benefits assistance, and referrals for other community services.
The grant from the Florida Blue Foundation will fund expansion of the pediatric hunger screening program to mental health providers, implement on-site Food Rx (food provided at nonprofit partner locations), and enable All Faiths to evaluate the impact of the initiative.
“Hunger and poor nutrition can have serious implications on a child’s current and future mental and physical health as well as their academic performance,” said Susan Towler, Florida Blue Foundation executive director. “The Florida Blue Foundation is committed to investing in impactful solutions that improve food security, such as All Faiths Food Bank’s pediatric hunger initiative. We are proud to support the expansion of its innovative collaboration with health care providers to identify and address food insecurity at the community level.”
The initial provider partner for the screenings was Sarasota Memorial Health Care System (SMH). AFFB and SMH worked together to resolve extensive systemic issues: HIPAA, incorporating the screening tool into the Electronic Health Records, educating staff, and integrating procedures, referral processes and data collection. Once the processes and procedures were institutionalized, AFFB expanded the project to additional health care providers in Sarasota and DeSoto Counties.
“We are pleased and honored to be recognized by the Florida Blue Foundation for our expertise and experience in addressing food insecurity,” said Sandra Frank, CEO of All Faiths Food Bank. “As our model shifts from reacting to hunger to addressing its root causes, these funds will support our work to lift people out of poverty and eliminate hunger from our communities.”
AFFB is one of 12 organizations selected by the Florida Blue Foundation to receive a portion of its recent $3.8 million investment to address food security in the state. The Florida Blue Foundation’s Food Security Grants are intended to provide support for access to affordable healthy foods for low-income families who live in food deserts and food insecure communities. Participating organizations must have proven and effective processes and staff in place to carry out the program. In addition, the organization must provide evidence-based results as it relates to documenting their outcomes with moving food desert communities/neighborhoods/families from food insecurity to food security.
To learn more about All Faiths, visit allfaithsfoodbank.org or call 941-379-6333.
About All Faiths Food Bank
All Faiths Food Bank is the only food bank and largest hunger relief organization in Sarasota and DeSoto counties, providing millions of meals each year with nearly 200 agencies and programs throughout the community. All Faiths works not only to fight hunger today but also strives to end hunger – forever – by helping families and individuals gain long-term food security, enjoy better health outcomes, and achieve self-sufficiency. In 2021, All Faiths distributed 19 million pounds of food – equating to 17 million meals, provided 36% more meals than 2019 (pre-pandemic), and remained steadfast in its commitment to provide nutritional assistance to community members, including 44% who were new to the food bank. For its efforts, All Faiths was honored as the 2021 “Nonprofit of the Year” by the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce; the organization was also recognized as a Top 4 Food Bank in the country in 2020. All Faiths is rated 4 stars by Charity Navigator and is a member of the Feeding America and Feeding Florida networks. For more information visit allfaithsfoodbank.org.