FIND Food Bank branches out to Hi-Desert, partnering with Morongo Basin Healthcare District to provide better access to healthy food for area residents
According to data from Feeding America, 87% of counties across the United States with the highest rates of food insecurity are rural. In areas considered “food deserts”, there are often compounding factors of poor diet quality, higher medical care costs, and barriers to basic needs that push rural communities deeper into cycles of poverty and food insecurity. The Morongo Basin region is no exception, where 1 in 5 people may face hunger primarily due to significant barriers in healthy food access.
In response, FIND Food Bank and the Morongo Basin Healthcare District have formed a partnership to address the increasing rate of food insecurity in the Hi-Desert. FIND Food Bank’s new branch, provided by Morongo Basin Healthcare District, gives local food pantries a nearby location to pick-up healthy ingredients and non-perishable food items in bulk for distribution at their locations within the Morongo Basin.
This partnership means that area food pantries do not have to commute over an hour to FIND’s warehouse in Indio to pick up food. For many, that drive is a burden, with some agencies renting a truck weekly and others simply not going down as often as needed due to fuel and labor costs.
“As the desert’s regional food bank, it is important that FIND ensures that there is equitable access to nutritious food all over our region,” states Debbie Espinosa, FIND President and CEO. “After a year of serving over 750 families twice a month through our mobile market at Joshua Tree Elementary School, we realized that the need for healthy food was not specific to the pandemic. Thanks to this new partnership with Morongo Basin Healthcare District, FIND will continue be there for them.”
“Food is medicine,” says Jackie Combs, CEO of Morongo Basin Healthcare District. “When the community eats healthy food, they are less likely to develop chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, or cardiac disease. Partnering with FIND Food Bank will bring healthier food choices to our community.”
The FIND Hi-Desert branch is located at the Morongo Basin Healthcare District campus in Yucca Valley. FIND will store food for pick-up by area food pantries to distribute locally. FIND and the Morongo Basin Healthcare District encourages the community to reach out with any inquiries regarding food access or becoming a FIND member food pantry by calling 760-775-3663.
FIND Food Bank
FIND is the Desert’s Regional Food Bank serving 5,000 square miles, which includes eastern Riverside and southern San Bernardino Counties, from the High Desert and Joshua Tree across the Coachella Valley to Anza, and down to the Salton Sea. FIND is the largest hunger relief and food rescue organization in the region. They are the Feeding America food bank for the Coachella Valley Desert Region and the USDA distributor for eastern Riverside County. FIND feeds an average of 150,000 individuals, families, children, seniors and veterans each month. Their 150 distribution sites include over 80 community agency partnerships (soup kitchens, religious organizations, local nonprofits) and 44 community mobile markets that fill in the service gaps for food deserts and low-income areas. FIND is dedicated to ending hunger today, tomorrow, and for a lifetime through awareness, education, and mobilization of resources and community involvement.
MORONGO BASIN HEALTHCARE DISTRICT
The Morongo Basin Healthcare District focuses on making healthcare more accessible to residents, and operates community health centers which provide primary and specialty medicine, behavioral healthcare, as well as dental services, in both Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley. The District also operates the LIFT Transportation program, providing free, non-urgent transportation to medical appointments within the Morongo Basin and region, including patients who are wheelchair-bound. Its mission is to improve the health and wellness of the residents who live within the District’s geographic boundaries. Through education campaigns, the District seeks to improve lifestyle choices that lead to healthy eating and better management of disease processes, and through health screenings, encourage early detection of diseases. “Like” their Facebook page at “Morongo Basin Healthcare District” for immediate updates on health opportunities, or visit MBHDistrict.org.