Pinellas County looking to improve food access as more families grapple with hunger during pandemic




PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Community leaders, in both Pinellas County and the City of St. Petersburg, are taking steps to help the growing number of families facing hunger due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of St. Petersburg is expected to discuss the creation of a Food Policy Council alongside the Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete. Community leaders will also have a discussion on food insecurity in St. Petersburg and what can be done to expand healthy food options, especially in food deserts.

Across the country, Food Policy Councils examine how the local food system operates and provide policy recommendations to improve that system. These groups also support the development and expansion of locally-produced foods.

Those with the Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete now say people in St. Pete are having health issues because of racial and health inequities in the community-based food system. They are helping lead the charge on changing that, citing a number of troubling problems to county leaders.

Currently, 134,650 people don’t have enough to eat in Pinellas County. That is a little more than 14% of the population, according to Feeding Tampa Bay.

Also, nearly 25% of Pinellas County Community Health Needs Assessment survey respondents had no place to go for food when money was tight, according to the Florida Department of Health.