Twelve Florida organizations dedicated to fighting food insecurity will face off in the GuideWell Block by Block Food Insecurity Challenge state finals on Wed., Oct. 16 at the GuideWell Innovation Center in Lake Nona for an opportunity to win a grand prize of $20,000 in funding to further their efforts to address food insecurity in their respective community. The 12 finalists were selected after pitching their solutions to a panel of judges at one of four regional pitch events held throughout the state in mid-September.
GuideWell issued the statewide challenge to entrepreneurs, nonprofits, innovators and organizations to seek innovative ideas for reducing or eliminating food insecurity – an issue impacting 2.8 million people in Florida alone.
“We issued the challenge to accelerate innovative thinking and find solutions to fight hunger so we could help build more food-secure communities throughout the state,” said Kirstie McCool, executive director of GuideWell Innovation. “The work that many of these organizations are already doing is impressive, especially with limited funding and resources. This challenge is a tremendous opportunity for us to help one of the finalists move their business model forward, while encouraging innovation and collaboration.”
The ideas the finalists will pitch at the state showcase range from high-tech solutions like mobile apps, sensors in shipping containers and street-side vending machines to mobile pantries and educational farming programs that can be implemented in food-desert communities. All the ideas focus on sustainable solutions designed to increase affordable access to healthy food.
The 12 finalists were selected from a pool of 55 applicants, most of whom pitched their ideas at one of four regional food insecurity pitch events throughout the state. The top three from each region were each awarded $2,000 and an opportunity to compete for the $20,000 state prize to further expand their approach to solving food insecurity.
The 12 finalists include:
• Team Zero (Brevard County)
• Fleet Farming (Orange County)
• ElderPoint Ministries (Polk County)
• Foodery Farms (Duval County)
• Urban Folk Farm (Duval County)
• ‘Ohana No Ka Oi (Duval County)
• Homeless Empowerment Program (Pinellas County)
• The Well (Hillsborough County)
• Feeding Tampa Bay (Hillsborough County)
• Bridge to Hope (Miami-Dade County)
• Lotus House (Miami-Dade County)
• Memory Trees (Palm Beach County)
The challenge finals, which will be held on Wed., Oct. 16, will kick off a two-day food insecurity event at the GuideWell Innovation Center in Orlando's Lake Nona Medical City. The second day, Thurs., Oct. 17, will be an all-day forum to continue the dialogue and bring together experts and stakeholders from throughout the state and nation to collaborate on how to build more food secure communities in Florida. Danielle Nierenberg of Food Tank will serve as the keynote speaker at the forum.
Food insecurity is defined as the inability to access sufficient and nutritious food for an active life. As a health solutions company committed to helping people and communities achieve better health, GuideWell is committed to addressing complex issues, such as food insecurity, to make sure people in our state have access to resources that support a healthy lifestyle.