ORLANDO, Fla. – An estimated 37 million Americans, including 11 million children, in 2018 were considered food insecure. The problem is even worse in Central Florida with 1 in 6 people struggling to find consistent access to food to maintain an active and healthy life.
But thanks to charities like Feeding Children Everywhere, many of those families are getting the food they need. Dave Green, the CEO of the Longwood-based non-profit, spoke with anchor Justin Warmoth on "The Weekly on ClickOrlando.com" to discuss the nationwide hunger issue and how Feeding Children Everywhere is getting results for families.
"What [food insecurity] stems from is housing affordability and the rising cost of living," Green said.
"That's a major challenge for us here in Central Florida. Of course, health care costs, food costs, education costs, student loans, combined with wages that are stagnant in households over the last 15 years. There are actually more families today who are waking up not sure how they're going to put food on the table."
Green says 1 in 4 children in Central Florida deals with food insecurity. It has been proven that children who go to school without proper nutrition have a much more difficult time focusing and retaining the material.
"It really is a tragedy because it puts children in Central Florida behind their peers throughout the country," Green said. "When you're a child, especially in that kindergarten through 8th-grade range, the body physically cannot develop the way it should without the right nutrition. And then the stress, anxiety and shame that exists in those households weighs on people from a psychological standpoint, too. We've got to do something about that."
Feeding Children Everywhere is trying to do something about that by creating a nationwide grocery delivery program called Full Cart. Green believes the portal system will be a game-changer for families who are affected.
"We're very fortunate to have just received a $1 million grant from the Cigna Foundation, and that's helping us put in all the infrastructure and capacity and even technology to be able to serve families at scale across the country, including in Central Florida," Green said. "It gives families an opportunity to have groceries for pennies on the dollar compared to other options."
Feeding Children Everywhere also continues to assist the Bahamas as it recovers from the widespread devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian.
After opening its Central Florida location in 2009, Green says the organization is now approaching a huge milestone.
"In the next few months, we'll be working with our millionth volunteer," Green said. "One million volunteers over a 10-year period is something to definitely celebrate."
If you'd like to get involved with Feeding Children Everywhere, you can sign up on its website by clicking or tapping here.