JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Oct. 11, 2017 – Feeding Northeast Florida, the local Feeding America food bank, is utilizing funding secured through a Walmart grant to streamline its food rescue and distribution process. The $75,000 grant is designed to help the food bank’s hunger-relief partner organizations improve their ability to transport, store and distribute more food to those in need. Feeding Northeast Florida used the funding to purchase, modify and wrap four mobile trailers. Each trailer has been outfitted with a refrigeration system and generator, allowing agency partners to move food safely.
The trailers have already been assigned to partners, including Family Worship Center, St. Francis House and St. Augustine Christian Service Center, serving St. Johns County and Grace Community Pantry, serving Flagler County. Each agency is leasing the trailers free of charge.
“Before having access to these trailers, these partners were limited on how they were able to distribute food,” said Feeding Northeast Florida CEO Frank D. Castillo. “In order to pick up food directly from retail partners, a refrigerated truck is required. So instead of Feeding Northeast Florida trucks making daily trips to stores in outlying counties, these new trailers will streamline the way food is moved, allowing local partners to pick-up from their local grocery stores and distribute directly to the food insecure in that area.”
The trucks also allow the partners more flexibility on the types of foods they can pick-up from the Feeding Northeast Florida warehouse. Each week, partners may pick up a variety of food items Feeding Northeast Florida has on-hand. Without a refrigerated vehicle, partners traveling more than 30 minutes to neighboring counties could only transport dry goods, prohibiting them from selecting from a large assortment of refrigerated product, including free, fresh produce.
“It will give us an opportunity to perhaps expand capacity, to be able to pick up a little bit more, to be able to have the opportunity to serve the people a little bit better by having more food because we always seem to run out. So anything that we can do to get more helps,” said Pastor Philip Cochran of Family Worship Center.
In addition to the trailers, each agency is also receiving stainless-steel, commercial-grade freezers, stainless-steel commercial-grade refrigerators, scales and temperature guns to ensure all food being distributed is safe and properly stored. This is more than $15,000 in additional equipment funded by a separate Walmart grant.
The need in Northeast Florida is great, and Feeding Northeast Florida thanks Walmart for supporting its mission through the awarding of this grant. One in four children and one in six adults in Northeast Florida are food insecure – that’s 283,140 people. In 2016, Feeding Northeast Florida distributed 12.3 million meals to hungry children and families, senior citizens and veterans through an extensive network of 160 hunger-relief partner organizations across eight counties.
To watch a video about the trailers and how they’re benefitting Northeast Florida, visit www.feedingnefl.org/video.