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Palm Beach County granted over $1.5 million in federal funding for food insecurity

'It is an honor to give a helping hand to two organizations who reach out their helping hands every day,' Rep. Lois Frankel says
Lois Frankel announcement 04042024.png
Posted at 2:02 PM, Apr 04, 2024

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County has received over $1.5 million in federal funding to combat food insecurity.

The announcement was made Thursday morning during a press conference at the Palm Beach County Food Bank.

The funding will serve the Palm Beach County Food Bank and the Alpert Jewish Family Service and is part of several local projects that U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., requested for Palm Beach County.

Part of the funding will be used for a new commercial kitchen and food service workforce training facility for the Palm Beach County Food Bank, as well as funding for Alpert Jewish Family Service to cover the build-out of a mixed-use space that will provide mental health counseling, food assistance, and volunteer programs in the community, Frankel said.

The Palm Beach County Food Bank is receiving $850,000 for a brand new community food kitchen that they said is designed to feed up to 10,000 hot, nutritious meals a day. The organization said 132,000 people in Palm Beach County are at risk of being food insecure.

Jamie Kendall with the Palm Beach County Food Bank discusses with WPTV reporter Joel Lopez how the funding will help open their new community food kitchen.
Jamie Kendall with the Palm Beach County Food Bank discusses with WPTV reporter Joel Lopez how the funding will help open their new community food kitchen.

"We are hopeful that we can get people in of all different levels and get them to where they need to be so that they're employable," Jamie Kendall, the CEO of the Palm Beach County Food Bank, said.

The project has been two years in the making and the kitchen is expected to be open within the next couple of months. A culinary training program will be available by fall.

"While we do procure food and distribute food from the food bank, that's our main program, the actual community kitchen aspect the commercial kitchen is brand new for the food bank," Kendall said. "It's a much-needed program."

She said there will also be space for their food bank volunteers to gather.

Elaine Rotenberg of the Alpert Jewish Family Service discusses how the need for food at their pantry has grown substantially in the last year.
Elaine Rotenberg of the Alpert Jewish Family Service discusses how the need for food at their pantry has grown substantially in the last year.

The Alpert Jewish Family Service has been servicing the community for 50 years with more than 2,000 programs. They will be receiving more than $1 million from the funding.

"This is truly a game changer for us," Dr. Elaine Rotenberg, the chief clinical and impact officer at the Albert Jewish Family Service, said. "About a year ago this time we were on a monthly basis giving out approximately 30 bags of food a month and now every month we're giving out more than 150."

Rotenberg said they will have eight counseling offices and a more than 1,000-square-foot food pantry within a renovated space at Temple Shaarei Shalom. They have smaller locations in Palm Beach Gardens and West Palm Beach but the Boynton Beach location is expected to be their largest.

A behavioral health office on the second floor is already open and seeing clients. The pantry on the first floor is scheduled to open within the next week or so pending final inspections.

"It is an honor to give a helping hand to two organizations who reach out their helping hands every day with funding that will expand and promote their services, and that includes feeding food insecure families," Frankel said.

Following the press conference, Frankel and community leaders were given a tour of the Palm Beach County Food Bank by Kendall.