01 Jul Feeding Northeast Florida and Partners Serve Area Veterans and Active-Duty Military Families
In October 2020, FNEFL partnered with United Way of Northeast Florida, DoorDash, and The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to deliver food to local veteran families, including homeless veterans. 250 veterans participated in the initiative and received a box of shelf-stable goods weekly in addition to fresh produce, dairy, and proteins. Since the program’s launch, nearly 12,000 food boxes have been delivered to local veterans through this initiative.
The VA identified and selected veterans in FNEFL’s service area to participate in this initiative. With the help of United Way 211’s community resources referral center and DoorDash, packages of food and other goods were delivered to the doors of those in the program.
“This partnership truly embodies United Way’s mission to connect people, resources and ideas to solve our community’s toughest challenges,” said Jeff Winkler, United Way of Northeast Florida’s head of basic needs. “By working together with Feeding Northeast Florida and the VA on this food delivery initiative, it’s more than providing nutritious meals – we are ensuring local veterans and their families do not slip through the cracks and their critical basic needs are being met.”
Working to help feed our military is not new to FNEFL. In 2018, FNEFL partnered with Humana to build the USO Mayport food pantry complete with coolers, freezers, and food pantry shelving. FNEFL continues to provide a truckload of fresh produce, lean meats and pantry staples to USO Mayport monthly to help stock their pantry. Initially serving 70 families, the expansion enabled the USO Mayport to feed 280 families monthly.
More recently, FNEFL was awarded a $110,000 grant from Feeding America (FA) in December of last year to support veterans and military families. Through this grant, FNEFL was able to provide $35,000 to the USO Mayport to assist in the purchase of a refrigerated box truck which will enable the organization to serve more military families across Northeast Florida.
“The partnership with Feeding Northeast Florida has been critical,” said Mike O’Brien President and CEO of USO Mayport. “Three and a half years ago when we came up with the concept to create a food pantry, Feeding Northeast Florida was right there at the table. Without that partnership we would never be where we are today.”
The FA veterans and military grant also benefited Five Star Veterans Center (Five Star) and Northeast Florida Women Veterans (NEFL Women Vets), helping both organizations with their needs. Five Star houses 30 veterans on-site who have suffered from PTSD or traumatic brain injuries. The grant helped purchase a commercial freezer and a warming oven for the facility’s kitchen to help serve their residents.
NEFL Women Vets received funding from the FA grant to help build a food pantry complete with reach-in freezers and coolers, and food pantry shelving to serve female veterans. Grant funding from FA, as well as a CSX Pride in Service grant, provided nearly $37,000 in food bank credits to USO Mayport, Five Star, NEFL Women Vets, Grace Community Pantry and two more food pantries in Bradford county to shop the FNEFL Share Floor or the food bank’s online ordering platform.
“Veterans and our military families deserve so much appreciation,” said King. “Through our partnerships, we are able to provide food and resources to help support our heroes. We are grateful for our partnership with United Way of Northeast Florida, Veterans Affairs, The USO and so many others, and are honored to be able to give back to those who have made great sacrifices for our country.”
For more information about Feeding Northeast Florida, how to get involved or to make a donation, visit feedingnefl.org. Every dollar donated supports Feeding Northeast Florida’s work and provides six meals to those in need.