JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Nov. 15, 2018) — Feeding Northeast Florida, a nonprofit community food bank, UnitedHealthcare and KIPP Jacksonville Schools are hosting a pre-Thanksgiving food giveaway Saturday, Nov. 17, from 8 to 11 a.m. at the KIPP Jacksonville Schools, 1440 N. McDuff Ave.

“We thank UnitedHealthcare for helping us address food insecurity in Jacksonville,” said Frank Castillo, president and CEO of Feeding Northeast Florida. “This collaborative effort has enabled us to connect people to much-needed food to ensure they have a brighter future.”

UnitedHealthcare partnered with Feeding Northeast Florida last year, and through that relationship Feeding Northeast Florida has set up food banks with The Bethel Church in downtown Jacksonville and KIPP Jacksonville Schools.

KIPP Jacksonville Schools, a public charter school with enrollment nearing 1200 students in Kindergarten to 8th grades, is located in the 32254 ZIP code, has been designated a Health Zone One, where the cost of food is 43 percent higher than in other parts of Jacksonville. According to the Duval County Health Department, Health Zone One areas have higher levels of poverty, lower levels of educational achievement and higher rates of chronic health conditions.

“On top of all the challenges that come with being in a Health Zone One, the area is a severe food desert,” said Castillo. “Many people in a Health Zone One cannot access or afford healthy foods. Eating unhealthy foods can lead to a variety of health issues, and we are grateful UnitedHealthcare has helped us invest in efforts to bring resources to the people of the 32254 ZIP code. ”

More than 25 UnitedHealthcare employees, including UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Florida CEO Michael Lawton, will attend the food giveaway.

“Having access to healthy foods can make all the difference when it comes to a person’s overall health,” Lawton said. “Not only can healthy eating help prevent chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, it can also encourage things like better learning and engagement. It’s a key social determinate of health that we cannot ignore.” 

KIPP Jacksonville Schools will also host a community resource fair during the giveaway that will help people learn to become self-sufficient. Exhibitors include:

  • JTA Community education department
  • Wolfson Children’s Hospital
  • Florida KidCare
  • UnitedHealthcare
  • UnitedWay Real$ense
  • World Relief
  • Schell-Sweet CRC Social Services Dept.
  • KIPP Jacksonville Schools Boy Scouts KIPP Pack and Girl Scout KIPP Troop
  • The Duval County Health Department
  • Volunteers In Medicine
  • Jax Ascent UF HEALTH Outreach program

“Feeding Northeast Florida, UnitedHealthcare and KIPP Jacksonville Schools’ partnership has already enabled us to distribute more than 193,000 healthy meals to people most in need in our community,” Castillo said. “At Feeding Northeast Florida, we are committed to connecting people to the food they need to live healthy, productive lives.”

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Editor’s Note:

The following people will be available for interviews:

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Florida CEO Michael S. Lawton

Feeding Northeast Florida CEO Frank Castillo

About Feeding Northeast Florida

Feeding Northeast Florida works daily to provide healthy food and critical resources to those locally struggling with food insecurity across eight regional counties. In 2017, more than 12.5 million meals were distributed throughout Northeast Florida through the organization’s robust hunger-relief network of 150 partners and programs. For more information about Feeding Northeast Florida, visit https://www.feedingnefl.org/.