$2 million grant aims to improve food access among Fresno youth

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A $2 million has been awarded to two Fresno organizations addressing food insecurity.

Fresno County not only feeds California but the entire world. Yet, many in the community go hungry.

"It is so focused on food and if we can address some of the food challenges and scarcity that also exists, partnering with organizations such as Metro Ministries and local schools and kids, that was really a partnership really in the making," explained Matt DeCamara, executive director of Rite Aid Healthy Futures.

The drug store's charity awarded six cities a grant to advance food equity, which is part of a new "Strengthening Cities" initiative.

"We're really trying to create a program and a set of partnerships, where the health and wellness of the community, as well as the health equity and racial equity of the community is equally balanced," said DeCamara. "Because the two really go hand in hand."

The Fresno Community Health Improvement Partnership (FCHIP) will receive $180,000 over two years.

It will support programs focused on easing youth trauma, which according to the organization, can come from food insecurity.

Meanwhile, more than $1 million will help Fresno Metro Ministry's youth-centered programs under the Food to Share project.

"Fresno Metro Ministry really has focused on healthy people and healthy places, so it really connects place with people," explained executive director Keith Bergthold.

The grant will enroll more than 100 Fresno students into its community garden and after-school farming programs. Plus, they'll learn how to shop, cook and eat healthier foods through the organization's Cooking Matters Program.

"We're teaching them at a young age about healthy eating, about economic development, about all these things that is going to affect the community," said deputy director Emogene Nelson.

The programs are set to launch in April.

Rite Aid, along with the two local organizations, said it's the youth who will lead Fresno toward becoming a healthier and more equitable community.
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