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Help on Wheels: Mobile Food Pantry Provides Produce to Families in Need

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Rosie White wouldn’t let a cold, rainy Memphis day stand between her and an opportunity to help feed her family. While waiting in line, Rosie, who’s raising her grandchildren on a small income, knew her yellow umbrella wasn’t her only refuge.

The Mid-South Food Bank’s new Nutrition on Wheels mobile pantry arrived in her community, offering bags of fresh produce, as part of a new expansion to serve some of the 370,000 people experiencing food insecurity across the Memphis region.  

With the help from a UnitedHealthcare $500,000 Empowering Health grant, the food bank was able to purchase two new mobile food pantry trucks to extend their reach in an area that has some of the highest food insecurity rates in the country.  

“Some people don’t have access, they are food deserts. We are going to make sure we are filling that gap for them,” said Cathy Pope, president and CEO of Mid-South Food Bank. “If you can have a healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, that is going to help you with a lot of illnesses down the road. We hope to move the needle on the health of our community.”

The Nutrition on Wheels mobile pantries will serve patients and clients at 30 clinics and senior centers with nutritious food boxes, giving a needed boost to people like Rosie.

“I wouldn’t be standing in the rain if I didn’t need it. I’m doing better. I’m doing much better,” Rosie said, as she headed home with bags of fresh oranges and arms full of food.

The UnitedHealthcare grant also provided three refrigerator/freezer units for school-based food pantries, as more than 110,000 children in the Memphis area are considered food insecure.