In Central Florida, 500-700 people received fresh, Florida-grown produce each week for 3 months during the pandemic. This was because of a community partnership with the UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program (FNP).
Early in the pandemic, members of the Central Florida Alliance to End Hunger Food Access Working Group realized a growing need for access to healthy food in their community. The group planned for a new produce distribution site in a high-need area of East Winter Garden, Florida. However, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, the lead partner, had funding to provide only about 4 weeks of food at the new site.
Needing to find a source for free produce, Angela Corona, FNP public health specialist at the time, contacted the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA) for help. SoSA, a major gleaning organization with a regional office in Orlando, Fla., had previously worked with St. Luke’s. The church now committed to providing the produce each week until the harvest season ended. SoSA provided enough gleaned produce to support distributions at Shepherd’s Hope Health Center, the new site, as well as at other local churches and organizations.
“Angela connected us with our own community partner that we had known for some 20 years, but in a new way. Because of this connection, we were able to extend 4 weeks of distribution to 12 weeks,” said Mariam Mengistie, executive director of missions, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.
FNP enhanced this food assistance with nutrition education materials like healthy recipes and physical activity handouts. These were distributed along with the produce at Shepherd’s Hope. They partnered with the American Heart Association to choose the resources to distribute.
SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework Indicator included Organizational Partnerships (ST7).