Commissioner Adam Putnam: Hunger In Florida Is Imminently Solvable
By CapitalSoup // September 17, 2015
BRADENTON, FLORIDA – Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam gave an update on the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ efforts to address hunger during Mosaic’s Annual Florida Hunger-Relief Forum in Bradenton, Fla.
“The abundance provided by Florida agriculture gives our state a unique opportunity to confront hunger in our communities,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.
“By evaluating our communities’ diverse needs and the root causes of hunger, Florida can better connect its abundant resources with those in need and create more positive and healthy outcomes.”
One out of six Floridians is considered food insecure, including one out of four children. Collectively, more than 3 million people in Florida are food insecure.
Launched at last year’s forum, “Florida’s Roadmap to Living Healthy” is an online GIS map that overlays data available on health and wellness by census track as well as assets that are available to assist communities.
This interactive, online tool indicates locations of food deserts, food stamp households and death rates attributable to nutrition-related diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers.
Next, the map overlays assets that are available to assist communities, including food banks, food pantries, farmers markets, child nutrition programs, federally-qualified health centers and school performance, among others.
“The data can be used to help organization determine how to use limited resources to have the greatest impact on the communities most in need. The tool is customizable so organizations can overlay their own data on top to help make strategic decisions,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.
”By improving access to nutritious food in our schools and communities, we can reduce diet-related illnesses, reduce the strain on our healthcare system, improve academic performance, and improve workplace productivity.”
Commissioner Putnam provided an update today on how community organizations are using the tool to guide their efforts.
In the year since its launch, groups like the Florida Association of Food Banks, the Moffitt Cancer Center, the Florida Community Loan Fund and Florida Hospital Carrollwood have leveraged the data available through the “Roadmap” to guide their community initiatives.
The Florida Association of Food Banks used the map to more effectively allocate donated resources to the communities where need is high yet access to food is limited.
The Moffitt Cancer Center has initiated a research project based on the “Roadmap” to better understand and help prevent cancer among school age children.
The Florida Community Loan Fund, with the help of a $1.5 million federal grant, will use the “Roadmap” to guide their efforts to expand access to healthy foods with the development of grocery stores, smaller scale food stores and nonprofit organizations.
Florida Hospital Carrollwood is leaning on the “Road Map” for their IRS-required Community Health Plan and their “Food is Medicine Program.” They’re working to manage and prevent diet-related illness and disease through increased education and access to nutritious food.
The use of this tool has already shown promise in the department’s Summer BreakSpot program, as well, which provides summer meals to children in need.
The department used data on food stamp households and overlaid that with locations of Summer BreakSpot sites. Then partners were recruited in specific areas to fill the gaps identified.
Last year, the department partnered with more than 3,600 community organizations statewide to provide more than 13.5 million meals to more than 300,000 children, a more than 10 percent increase compared to the year before.
Additionally, through the department’s school breakfast and lunch programs, more than 440 million meals and snacks were served last year to more than 2.8 children in Florida.