Fight Hunger

Hunger can — and does — exist amid plenty. Despite its wealth, more than 132,000 residents in Palm Beach County struggle with hunger. 37,350 of these residents are children who do not have enough to eat on a daily basis.* Over half of the students enrolled in The School District of Palm Beach County are qualified for free and reduced lunch.

These numbers were reported during COVID. The number of food-insecure people was able to be reduced from 181,000 due to increased federal funds and waivers that were available. Coming out of COVID and with the ending of these programs, compounded by inflation and cost of living, we know these numbers will increase when next surveyed.

*Feeding America, Map the Meal Gap []

Hunger in Palm Beach County

In our community, individuals or families do not want to share with their neighbors the fact that they are struggling economically often hide hunger. Sometimes hunger hides behind doors of nice houses with mortgages in default, or where the electricity is turned off, or all the income is going to housing costs, leaving little or no money for food. Sometimes it hides behind the stoic faces of parents or grandparents who skip meals to protect their children or grandchildren from hunger. It goes unseen by those not looking for it.

Often students only eat while they are at school because they do not have food at home. There are 92,837 students that have qualified for free and reduced lunch, which is 49.7 percent of the students enrolled in Palm Beach County Public Schools (not including charter schools). Due to the growing number of children facing food insecurities, United Way of Palm Beach County has partnered with providers to provide 7,800 children with weekend food backpacks and nearly 22,000 meals served through the Mobile Breakspot food program in the Glades area.

Palm Beach County Hunger Relief Plan

In 2015, United Way of Palm Beach County and the administrative leadership at Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners collaborated to develop, identify solutions, and implement the Palm Beach County Hunger Relief Plan.

United Way and the County continues to lead this collaboration with more than 180 partners in our community to address childhood hunger, senior hunger, building infrastructure, alleviating hunger and increasing access to fresh produce in The Glades, and advocacy.

With an incredible gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in 2020, United Way is partnering with the Palm Beach County Food Bank to build additional infrastructure that will expand hunger relief efforts and allow for more nutritious food to reach more people in our community.

Our Impact:

  • 12,797,712 meals were distributed last year.
  • 83% of individuals served by United Way funded agencies adopted healthy eating behaviors.

Hunger Relief Advisory Council, Work Groups, and Subcommittees

The Hunger Relief Initiative uses the Collective Impact Model to implement the Palm Beach County Hunger Relief Plan and make sustainable, long-term changes to reduce hunger in Palm Beach County. This work will be done through our Hunger Relief Advisory Council (HRAC) and the Council’s work groups and subcommittees:

Hunger Relief Advisory Council (HRAC)

HRAC is responsible for guiding and overseeing the implementation of the Palm Beach County Hunger Relief Plan. HRAC is made up of community experts and leaders, including the chairs of each work group.

Childhood Work Group

The Childhood Work Group focuses on hunger issues related to children and youth. Current activities include increasing school lunch and breakfast participation, increasing participation in summer and afterschool meals, and increasing nutrition education opportunities. Two subcommittees also fall under the Childhood Work Group.

0-4 Subcommittee

The 0-4 Subcommittee focuses on hunger issues during pregnancy and early childhood. Activities include improving outreach and awareness of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Child Care Food Program (CCFP).

Weekend Backpack Subcommittee

The Weekend Backpack Subcommittee focuses exclusively on weekend backpack programs in Palm Beach County, improving communication across providers, identifying needs and gaps, and finding partnership opportunities.

Glades Work Group

The Glades Work Group focuses on the geographic area known as the Glades, which includes the cities of Belle Glade, Canal Point, Pahokee, and South Bay. Activities are centered around increasing available food and access to food in the Glades through weekend backpack programs, community and school gardens, and adult meal programs.

Infrastructure Work Group

The Infrastructure Work Group focuses on issues concerning the hunger relief system in Palm Beach County. Activities have included supporting retailers to participate in Fresh Access Bucks (FAB), increasing food storage capacity and efficiency, and increasing awareness of nutrition education opportunities.

Pantry Project

The Pantry Project convenes frontline hunger relief organizations who provide groceries, meals, and other services to the community. The Pantry Project provides opportunities for peer networking, discussion of emerging issues, and sharing information and resources.

Outreach & Advocacy Work Group

The Outreach & Advocacy Work Group supports outreach efforts for programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Group advocates for support at the local, state, and federal levels to increase access and decrease barriers for participation in food and nutrition programs.

Senior Work Group

The Senior Work group supports efforts to increase engagement and awareness of programs available to residents over 60 years old, including delivery of prepared meals and groceries and referrals to other resources.

Hunger Relief Quarterly Updates

View the most recent Hunger Relief Update: January 2024

For all previous updates, please visit our blog.

Click here to sign up for future Hunger Relief updates!

Thank you to our Generous Funders and Partners!

CROS Ministries serves the hungry in Palm Beach and Martin Counties by increasing access and availability of nutritious food through food pantries, a hot meal program, and produce recovery.

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