Nonprofit pivots to help fight hunger during pandemic

A nonprofit group used stimulus funds to help keep people fed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Video Transcript

ED CRUMP: Fruits and vegetables are good for almost any diet, and a necessity for some. That's the idea behind the Produce Prescription Program, which, prior to the pandemic, gave out vouchers through a network of health clinics. The theory the produce would also be good for families struggling during the pandemic wasn't lost on the folks at the Durham nonprofit Reinvestment Partners. They're behind the Produce Prescription Program, which uses free health clinics to identify participants.

They quickly identified funds in the first stimulus package that would help them provide fruits and vegetables to folks outside their clinic network. They called that program Healthy Helpings. It provided three monthly vouchers of $40 that could be used at any Food Lion, but only for fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and vegetables.

That money has now dried up. And although the Produce Prescription Program continues in the network of clinics, Reinvestment Partners would like to find more permanent funding for that program, and more temporary funding for another round of Healthy Helping.

- We're looking to get health insurers to cover food as a benefit for their members. And so we're pursuing that avenue where we can get funding from the health care sector. And we're also going to be looking for funding with this next stimulus bill. So just like we did with Healthy Helping, where we received CARES Act funding, we're also looking for funding in the American Rescue Plan.

ED CRUMP: Sam Hoeffler hopes there will be more support for programs like this in the future, after many of us learned during the pandemic that you never know when you might need help feeding your family. Coming up at 5:30, you'll hear from a local mom who benefited from the Healthy Helpings program. Ed Crump, ABC 11, Eyewitness News.