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Fighting Hunger and Food Waste with MEANS Database in Florida

| Florida

Apr 27, 2023

Since May of 2021 food recovery in Florida increased through an ongoing partnership between the UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program (FNP), MEANS (Matching Excess And Need for Stability) Database, and Florida Impact to End Hunger. The MEANS Database online platform allows organizations with excess food to post what they have available, so local non-profits can claim the food quickly and distribute it where it is needed the most. Thus, reducing hunger and food waste.

“The MEANS Database efforts have helped Cultivate Abundance to collaborate with East Fork Creek Farm, enabling us to access hundreds of pounds of nutritious greens appreciated by the Immokalee farmworker community,” said the technical director with Cultivate Abundance, a faith-based organization that distributes food to a pantry in Collier County.

Since joining MEANS Database, Orange County Public Schools have donated more than 1,000 pounds of excess food. In April 2022, the School District of Lee County also posted a donation of 6,600 pounds of hardboiled eggs. According to the senior program manager at MEANS Database, the donation was claimed within three minutes by a local non-profit.

The coordinator of special projects for Food and Nutrition services in Lee County said they were impressed with how quickly their donation moved. “Using MEANS Database was so much easier than calling various agencies,” they said.

As a SNAP-Ed implementing agency in Florida, FNP’s collaboration with MEANS Database began after the PSE coordinator for FNP, recognized the need to connect community partners with an online food distribution platform in Florida and contacted MEANS in early 2021. Before connecting with FNP, a handful of donations occurred within Florida. Since partnering with FNP, MEANS has been able to recover and donate about 500,000 pounds of food to nonprofit organizations throughout the state. All this food moved through the connections made within FNP has impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of Floridians facing food insecurity. The partnership continues to grow throughout Florida communities, and the team is excited to see further growth with FNP in 2023.

3 photos: 1, a box of citrus fruit, 2, a box of mangos, 3, an image of lettuce
Photo credit: Lettuce & Citrus - MEANS Database; Mangoes - Transition Sarasota

Although MEANS Database operates nationwide, FNP has been instrumental in connecting the organization with Florida non-profits and food providers that receive and distribute locally. In addition to providing ongoing referrals, FNP PSE specialists have collaborated with MEANS to offer partner training. The training educates partners on the use and benefits of MEANS Database and promoting healthy options in food pantries. Staff from FNP and the MEANS Database regularly meet with Florida Impact to End Hunger and other organizations to increase food recovery throughout the state.

State Contacts:
Karla Shelnutt

UF IFAS Extension University of Florida & Family Nutrition Program
Evaluation Framework Indicators