JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – June 12, 2018 – This month, the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Florida Blue are teaming up with Feeding Northeast Florida (FNEFL) to launch a two-week hunger drive and fundraising campaign aimed at providing critical nourishment to thousands of food insecure households across the First Coast. Starting June 15 through June 30, all 12 YMCA branch locations and the Metropolitan office will be collecting donations and healthy, non-perishable food items with the goal of providing a week’s worth of meals to 3,500 families.
The entire First Coast community can participate in the two-week hunger drive by:
- Donating healthy, non-perishable foods items at any YMCA branch. Collection bins will be available for any resident to easily drop off food. Needed food items can be found here.
- Donating money to the effort, either in-person at any YMCA branch or by texting “NOHUNGER” to 91999.
- Volunteering to distribute food at one of the mobile food pantries. Learn more about how to volunteer here.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to youth development, the First Coast Y nurtures the physical, mental and social-emotional development of youth to feed their spirit, mind and body,” said YMCA of Florida’s First Coast President and CEO Eric Mann. “Our youth can’t achieve their full potential, however, without access to nutritious and wholesome food. In Northeast Florida alone, one in four children do not know where their next meal will come from. The First Coast YMCA is honored to partner with Jacksonville Jaguars, Florida Blue and Feeding Northeast Florida to help close the gap of food insecurity among children all summer long.”
Feeding Northeast Florida, Jacksonville’s community food bank, is dedicated to rescuing high-quality food that would normally be wasted and transforming it into meals for those in need. With children out of school, summer is the most challenging time of year for the food bank to keep enough inventory stocked to meet the increased demand from local families.
“In Duval County alone, more than 102,000 students are enrolled in the free or reduced lunch program at school. During the summer – without access to these meals – many of these children are going hungry,” said Feeding Northeast Florida President and CEO Frank D. Castillo. “With the support of the Jaguars Foundation, Florida Blue, and the First Coast YMCA and its members, we are better positioned to be able to provide these children with the necessary nutrition they need to grow and thrive. These community organizations are proven leaders in health and wellness, and we are proud to collaborate with them to collectively help transform Jacksonville.”
Food and monetary donations collected during this drive will be used to host Feeding Northeast Florida Mobile Food Pantries at seven locations across the First Coast. These mobile food pantries deliver fresh and shelf-stable food to neighborhoods that do not have adequate grocery stores, feeding agencies or pantries within an accessible distance.
“Food insecurity is a year-round issue, but we know that it is even more pronounced when school is out for the summer,” said Jaguars Foundation Senior Vice President Peter Racine. “For that reason, the Jaguars Foundation is working with Feeding Northeast Florida, the First Coast YMCA and Florida Blue to help parents feed their families this summer.”
Both the Jaguars Foundation and Florida Blue are supporting the efforts by the Y and Feeding Northeast Florida.
“We all have a responsibility to ensure that children in our community have the basics to be their very best,” said Florida Blue Market President Darnell Smith. “The summer break from school should not result in our children going without consistent access to nutritious food. Florida Blue is honored to partner with Feeding Northeast Florida, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the YMCA to help meet the nutritious needs of children in our community.
About the First Coast Y
In 2018, the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast is celebrating its 110th anniversary of serving the Northeast Florida community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. For 110 years, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast has been providing men, women and children of all ages, and from all walks of life, opportunities to build stronger bonds, live healthy and become more engaged with their communities. Learn more: www.FirstCoastYMCA.org.
About Feeding Northeast Florida
Feeding Northeast Florida (FNEFL) is establishing food security in eight area counties – Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns – through a partnership with 160 hunger-relief agencies and programs including food pantries and faith-based organizations. A member of Feeding America, FNEFL rescues good, high-quality food to be distributed to neighbors in need. In 2017, FNEFL distributed more than 12.5 million meals. With an estimated 283,000 in Northeast Florida relying on area food pantries and charitable organizations for food assistance each year – a number that has not changed much since the 2008 recession – FNEFL’s mission is even more critical today. To learn more about Feeding Northeast Florida, visit feedingnefl.org.
About the Jaguars Foundation
Under the leadership of Jaguars owner Shad Khan and his family, the Jaguars Foundation is a national leader in professional sports philanthropy. The Jaguars are committed to giving back and serving the greater Jacksonville community. In partnership with Florida Blue, the official Jaguars Community Partner, the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation supports programs benefiting youth, families, military and veterans, women’s health initiatives, youth football and fitness, and other NFL and team charitable initiatives.
About Florida Blue
Florida Blue, Florida’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield company, has been providing health insurance to residents of Florida for nearly 75 years. Driven by its mission of helping people and communities achieve better health, the company serves more than 5 million health care members across the state. In total, Florida Blue and its affiliated companies serve 16 million people in 29 states. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., it is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.