JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Oct. 17, 2017 Feeding Northeast Florida, the local Feeding America food bank, is pleased to announce it has been awarded a $150,000 grant from Publix Charities to support hungry children and families, senior citizens and veterans living in Northeast Florida food deserts. The funding will be utilized to deploy 107 mobile food pantries across the Jacksonville-area throughout the next 12 months.

“Publix Super Markets Charities is committed to the local communities that we serve, and we are very proud to stand with Feeding Northeast Florida in the fight against hunger for local children, individuals and their families,” said Kelly Williams-Puccio, executive director of Publix Super Markets Charities.

In Northeast Florida, the need is great. There are 281,140 food insecure individuals throughout Feeding Northeast Florida’s eight-county service area. More than 81,000 are children. In Duval County, 3.5 million meals were provided by Feeding Northeast Florida to families who live in food deserts in 2016.

“Ensuring that those living within food deserts have access to the healthy food they so critically need is one of our top priorities at Feeding Northeast Florida,” said Feeding Northeast Florida Interim CEO Frank Castillo. “Food insecurity rates in Jacksonville are among the highest in the state. This Publix Charities grant will allow us to deliver high-quality produce and other healthy food items right to families who are often forced to spend their limited food budgets on cheap, canned or processed foods because fresh foods are not available.”

Each Publix-funded mobile pantry will distribute roughly 8,500 pounds of food to the community. Many of these mobile pantries will take place in coordination with Feeding Northeast Florida partner agency Daily Manna Serving Center, located in North Riverside. Daily Manna is the Food Bank’s largest food distributor, providing 1.5 million meals annually.

“We could not do what we do without support from organizations like Publix and our partnership with Feeding Northeast Florida,” said Daily Manna Serving Center Pastor Gerald Dinkins. “Daily Manna is grateful to benefit from Publix’s generosity. These mobile pantries will go a long way in ensuring that those struggling with hunger in our community are able to receive food to feed their families.”

Anyone interested in sponsoring critical mobile pantry efforts may contact Kristen Anderson at kanderson@feedingnefl.org.