Local groups healthy food efforts drawing national focus

Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry among 4 groups in CNN project

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Four local organizations are getting national attention for the work they do to feed the hungry in Northeast Florida.

Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry in Jacksonville Beach, 2nd Mile Ministries, University of Florida Duval County Extension Office and Metro North Community Garden will be featured Friday in a CNN project called Studio Courageous.

It can bee seen on CNN's flagship account via Facebook, and online through its partnership with Studio Courageous and Aetna Healthcare.

What makes the organizations unique is that they focus on providing healthy foods.

BEAM grows fresh vegetables that are harvested and placed in its pantry, where clients, like Lynn Singleton, can select healthy food that they otherwise would not be able to afford. 

“I'm just so grateful for them,” said Singleton, who survived breast cancer and almost lost her home in the recession. 

BEAM provides food and emergency financial assistance to anyone at the beach in need.

“I wouldn't have electric (without them). They just paid it again. I'm gong to start crying. They just help me so much -- what I went through and how I did make it to this point.”

BEAM also shows clients how to cook the vegetables it provides.

Registered dietician Rachel McCandless is focused on breaking a cycle of offering those in need food that tends to be unhealthy because it's less expensive, which ends up leading to a slew of health problems later.

“Our clients, almost 60 percent have a family member with high blood pressure. Over 40 percent have a family member with diabetes,” McCandless said. “When they start eating better, if they start feeling better and realizing the long-term benefits of making those small choices every day, it really helps to turn around the perspective.”

BEAM is thrilled its local message is now getting national attention.

To help BEAM through donations or volunteering, go to https://www.jaxbeam.org/.

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