Steve Van Oort and Angela Connolly Have the Floor
Making connections between housing and food security
Each Polk County Housing Trust Fund bus tour explores how providing access to affordable housing improves the lives of Polk County residents. The bus tour on October 21 will feature the Partnership for a Hunger-Free Polk County and its efforts to increase access to food for those who need it. The tour will highlight food pantries, affordable homes and the need to make better connections between housing, food and transportation in our community.
As Polk County Supervisors, we believe that it is our responsibility to do what we can to make certain that our most vulnerable families have access to basic needs such as food, transportation, medical care and affordable housing. We hear from our constituents who struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis and know that the solution to the problems they face is greater than simply providing a service. It is about creating a network of collaborations.
When we began this conversation in 2015, we brought key stakeholders together to form the Partnership for a Hunger-Free Polk County. Working together, the partnership serves as the catalyst to ensure every Polk County resident has access to food. We set out to raise $10 million to increase access to food pantries throughout the county and to increase awareness of both food pantry locations and the problem.
Within one year, the partnership has achieved several milestones. This past July, the initiative launched the mobile food pantry. This new pantry will serve parts of the county where residents can’t afford food and can’t afford transportation to get to a food pantry. The partnership has also extended food pantry hours so that people can access the pantry on the days and times that are most convenient for them. By the end of 2016, the initiative will have added more than 150 hours per week to the food pantry network. The partnership has raised almost half its funding goal in the first year of its five-year plan — $4.8 million.
But the Partnership for a Hunger-Free Polk County still has work to do. When people are food insecure, they also often struggle to find affordable housing and transportation. While we work to provide access to emergency food supply, the Polk County Housing Trust Fund works to provide access to affordable housing. These efforts take collaboration and support from the community.
As Polk County Supervisors and Polk County Housing Trust Fund Board members, we would like you come see firsthand how we are working together.
To learn more about how to get involved with the Partnership for a Hunger-Free Polk County, visit hungerfreepolkcounty.org.