United Food Bank receives funds to combat hunger among senior citizens
The United Food Bank of Plant City was awarded two generous donations from its partners Sweet Life Farms, Patterson Companies and the Mosaic Company on June 15.
It was a collaboration among the organizations in order for the food bank to start its Feeding Our Legacy pilot program.
This effort focuses on food-insecure seniors throughout Plant City, Seffner, Thonotosassa, Dover, Valrico, Brandon, Bealsville, Lithia, and parts of Riverview. Sweet Life Farms and Patterson Companies handed over a check for $53,250, and Mosaic handed over one for $50,000.
First, the project will help provide food for 60 people in Bealsville, ranging from age 85 to 102.
Mary Heysek, the executive director of the United Food Bank of Plant City, was there for the presenting of the checks.
“What became very apparent to us at the food bank, is that our seniors need a lot of different types of things than the children,” she said.
Last year, the food bank served approximately 12,000 people over age 70.
About 150 seniors will benefit from the Feeding Our Legacy program, which includes an intake process with follow-up and tracking what specific needs should be addressed.
“A lot of these seniors have health conditions that are unchecked,” Heysek said. “Their healthcare cost is about three to five times higher than younger adult healthcare costs, so there’s a lot of issues going on. We have a lot of the aging population right here that we can help and we’re in a position to do it thanks to Patterson and thanks to Mosaic.”
Patterson Companies was established in 1985 and hauls both perishable and non-perishable items and has had much success in that market.
Mosaic was established in 2004 and has the ability to produce and deliver the crop nutrients phosphate and potash.
Nikki Foster, the public relations manager for Mosaic encouraged Heysek to pinpoint what the needs are so those individuals could be referred to the appropriate community resources.
“We’ve had a relationship with the food bank for quite a few years,” Foster said. “It preceded my start at Mosaic. We want to help the world grow the food it needs. It’s a perfect connection for us to partner with the United Food Bank.”
She and Heysek have discussed diversity and inclusion programs that focus on unrepresented demographics.
Foster wanted to pinpoint more so to individuals with needs, instead of focusing solely on groups of people.
During the pandemic, the food bank began to deliver emergency food supplies to low-income multi-family communities.
However, while providing services it was evident that there were senior citizens in dire need of food. This inspired the conception of Feeding Our Legacy.
One in four seniors struggle with hunger and don’t always have access to nutritious food.
“The United Food Bank in Plant City is a longstanding partner with Mosaic, conducting outstanding services throughout the region here,” said Chris Johnson, senior social responsibility specialist at Mosaic. “Personally, with the Bealsville project and the cultural uniform intake model, I think it could be truly transformative.”
And because the elderly typically have more health issues than younger adults and the youth, there’s going to be a lot of crossover services, Heyser said.
Mosaic has agreed to fund the staff that is needed to push the intake process for seniors.With the assistance of bilingual and culturally diverse intake staff, it only boosts the likelihood that more senior citizens will be supplied with the adequate nutrients that are needed.
Although the United Food Bank of Plant City is now implementing its pilot program in Bealsville, the partners said that the it will continue to flourish.
“I told Nikki several times ‘This is something that could be replicated potentially,” Johnson said. “I have no doubt that it’s going to be a successful project. It could really be a gamechanger.”