On Wednesday, Feb. 10 two dozen UnitedHealthcare employees were joined by Miami Dolphins players Earl Mitchell, Kelvin Sheppard and Jordan Phillips, to volunteer at a Feeding South Florida mobile pantry. The volunteer project celebrated the end of the third year of the “Sack Hunger” campaign, where UnitedHealthcare donates meals to Feeding South Florida for each sack made by the Dolphins defense during their season. Through Sack Hunger, UnitedHealthcare has donated 180,000 meals to Feeding South Florida since 2014.
“This donation enables us to provide food items and fresh produce to the working families, children and older adults who are in need of food assistance,” said Paco Vélez, president and CEO, Feeding South Florida.
The mobile pantry took place at Networking for Christ Ministry in Hollywood, Florida, which is a partner agency of Feeding South Florida. When our volunteers started showing up, they were put to work immediately, helping to sort and package food from pallets into smaller, more suitable portions to give away to the people who were already standing in line.
“This was my second year volunteering with Feeding South Florida and the Miami Dolphins for the Sack Hunger food distribution. It is always a pleasure to serve the community and to see the look of gratitude on the faces of families that are in need. I am honored to be a part of an organization that values volunteerism and community service,” said Aleta Mills, senior network contract manager, UnitedHealthcare.
Feeding South Florida’s Mobile Food Pantry program gives individuals and families access to fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products and breads that are vital to maintaining a proper diet. The mobile pantry enables Feeding South Florida to bring fresh produce into areas deemed ‘food deserts,’ which is an area where a majority of the residents have limited access to large retail stores with fresh food and groceries. More than 5,500 pounds of food was distributed to 300 families during the Sack Hunger mobile pantry at Networking for Christ Ministry.
“I know how important the services of Feeding South Florida are in this community, and I’m excited to partner with UnitedHealthcare as part of the Sack Hunger campaign,” said Jelani Jenkins, Miami Dolphins linebacker and our spokesperson for the Sack Hunger campaign.
Since 2010, Feeding South Florida has seen an increase in the reliance on emergency food programs by almost 40 percent. Families and individuals who were once donors are now standing in line at soup kitchens and food pantries, like the one our volunteer assisted at. As we witnessed in Hollywood, those in need of food assistance include children, the working poor, older adults, veterans, physically and mentally disabled, and the homeless.
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