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St. Pete Free Clinic expands Hearty Homes program

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

st-pete-free-clinicThe St. Petersburg Free Clinic has received a $20,000 grant from Clearwater-based Senior Citizens Services to expand its Hearty Homes program, which provides food to senior citizens in south and mid-Pinellas County.

The grant will double the Free Clinic’s ability to provide nutritious food to senior citizens. The Free Clinic expects to provide food assistance to more than 200 senior citizens.

“Unfortunately, many seniors are forced to choose which essential item — medication, housing, utilities or food — doesn’t fit in this month’s budget. Often, food is sacrificed to pay for other living expenses,” said Beth Houghton, the Free Clinic’s executive director.

About one in six, or 16.2 percent, of Pinellas County residents are food insecure, meaning they lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

“Adequate nutrition is key for senior citizens to have good health and an active lifestyle,” said Bill Sturtevant, president of Senior Citizen Services board of directors. “This grant allows St. Petersburg Free Clinic to provide nutritious food to more seniors in need in our community.”

The St. Petersburg Free Clinic’s Hearty Homes program provides shelf-stable items and fresh meat to senior citizens who live in mid- to south Pinellas County. To qualify, senior citizens must be considered food insecure and have few or no options for transportation.

The Free Clinic has more than doubled the volume of food provided to Pinellas County residents in recent years, from 1.6 million pounds in 2010 to an expected 4 million pounds this year. It plans to significantly increase the volume of food provided to its network of 65 partners serving south and mid-Pinellas County next year after the Jared S. Hechtkopf Community Food Bank opens in early 2017.

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