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Florida Matters Town Hall: Food Insecurity In Polk County

Polk County is a place of so many contradictions. It's the home of beautiful lakes, charming downtowns and historic landmarks. But this birthplace of several of Florida's governors, was also named by one recent study as having the country's second largest percentage of people struggling to avoid hunger.

We hosted a town hall on this issue on April 17 at Florida Southern College’s Annie Pfeiffer Chapel. Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham talked to people who are on the front lines of this fight against hunger and deprivation about what they've learned, and we also held a Q&A with our audience of about 80 people.

This week on Florida Matters, we listen to highlights from our town hall on food insecurity in Polk County.

Our panelists include:

  • Patricia Strickland, Executive Director of KidsPACK, which provides food for students to take home on the weekends.
  • Whitney Fung, a doctoral student at USF's College of Public Health. Whitney was previously an agent with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Program in Bartow.
  • Steve Turbeville, President and CEO of Lighthouse Ministries, a faith-based shelter in Lakeland that offers comprehensive services to the needy, and also distributes food boxes to area churches.


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The Florida Channel

Panelists from Florida Matters' town hall on food insecurity in Polk County. Patty Strickland (l), Steve Turbeville, Whitney Fung and host Robin Sussingham.
Credit Stephanie Colombini / WUSF
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The Florida Channel
Panelists from Florida Matters' town hall on food insecurity in Polk County. Patty Strickland (l), Steve Turbeville, Whitney Fung and host Robin Sussingham.

We also learn about some non-profits in Polk that are taking creative steps to alleviate hunger. Florida Matters reporter Julio Ochoa explains that some of the things they've learned are surprising.

Panelists from Florida Matters' town hall on food insecurity in Polk County. Patty Strickland (l), Steve Turbeville, Whitney Fung and host Robin Sussingham.
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF
/
The Florida Channel
Panelists from Florida Matters' town hall on food insecurity in Polk County. Patty Strickland (l), Steve Turbeville, Whitney Fung and host Robin Sussingham.

A bird's eye view of Florida Matters' town hall on food insecurity in Polk County, hosted in the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel at Florida Southern College.
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF
/
The Florida Channel
A bird's eye view of Florida Matters' town hall on food insecurity in Polk County, hosted in the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel at Florida Southern College.

About 80 people, many of whom are directly involved in the fight against food insecurity in Polk County attended the town hall. A number of attendees shared their questions and comments with us during the Q&A portion of the show.
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF
/
The Florida Channel
About 80 people, many of whom are directly involved in the fight against food insecurity in Polk County attended the town hall. A number of attendees shared their questions and comments with us during the Q&A portion of the show.

Many guests generously donated food at the Florida Matters town hall, which was passed on to local charities.
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF
/
The Florida Channel
Many guests generously donated food at the Florida Matters town hall, which was passed on to local charities.

Copyright 2017 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Stephanie Colombini joined WUSF Public Media in December 2016 as Producer of Florida Matters, WUSF’s public affairs show. She’s also a reporter for WUSF’s Health News Florida project.
Robin is Senior Editor at WUSF, spearheading the station's podcasting initiatives and helping to guide the vision for special reporting projects and creative storytelling. She hosts the weekly current affairs program, Florida Matters, on WUSF and also created The Zest, the station's podcast that's all about food, which she continues to host and serve as senior producer.