‘It’s a huge relief’: Local groups work to fight food insecurity

ORANGE PARK, Fla. — Several groups across northeast Florida joined together Saturday morning with a goal to tackle food insecurity.

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A giveaway was put on by the Pi Eta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., who partnered with the Safe Future Foundation, American Heart Association and Department of Health in Clay County.

Matthew Boyette received food during the giveaway. He said rising prices recently have been a big challenge financially, so the support he received Saturday couldn’t have come soon enough.

“It’s a huge relief,” Boyette said. “We probably wouldn’t make it otherwise.”

Cars piled into the parking lot at Orange Park Mall where 4,000 pounds of food, in addition to water, diapers, hygiene products and COVID-19 vaccines, were given out.

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Dr. Pauline Rolle with the Pi Eta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. said that food insecurity is an issue that is not uncommon in northeast Florida.

“This is what we do,” Rolle said. “We’re about service and sisterhood. It just makes our hearts happy to be able to do this for the community.”

According to Feeding Northeast Florida, one in seven people on the First Coast are food insecure.

“People can’t be healthy unless they have nutritious food,” Rolle said. “We’re trying to fill a gap here in the community with regard to food insecurity.”

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Lynn Bavar also attended the giveaway.

She said every little bit helps.

“I think it’s good,” Bavar said. “It’s a good thing to do.”

Chris Tobey is the CEO of the Safe Future Foundation and shared that many counties and surrounding areas in northeast Florida are suffering from food insecurity.

“We’re here on a Saturday morning,” Tobey said. “We could be anywhere else, but we’re here giving back to the community.”

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