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St. Louis nonprofit aims to close gap on food deserts and food disparities

Fit and Food Connection serves 80 families per week and the average household is four, so around 300 individuals weekly.

ST. LOUIS — Our 'A Way Forward' series focuses on the organizations in our area and the impact they are making.

This week, we highlight a non-profit called Fit and Food Connection.

It provides healthy foods and wellness opportunities to underserved communities.

The organization focuses on North City and North County hoping to fill the gap on food insecurity and food deserts through education and free programs.

Food deserts impact low-income individuals even more because they don't have reliable transportation often. This causes them to rely on fast food options and convenience stores.

Co-founder Gabrielle Cole points out eating at fast food locations has become a part of the culture and that's why healthy food options close by are important. 

"The people in the area don't have access to a grocery store, a grocery store is far away. A lot of our services include free fitness and nutrition food programming. We have a food assistance program where we deliver healthy food to individuals every Sunday," Cole adds.

Plus, it has fitness classes, one-on-one coaching, and a community garden in North City. 

Credit: KSDK

"Here at the garden we provide a lot of education, you can see things from the beginning, what your food look likes from the garden to your plate," Cole said.

The organization serves 80 families per week and the average household is four, so around 300 individuals weekly.

The need for access is imperative.

Fit and Food Connection's Community Development Liaison Bud Jones notes services have experienced a bump and that need. 

"Our weekly Sunday food delivery is up over 50% this year," he said.

That's why more hands on deck and more support means more access for families. 

"We can feed more folks, but we need the money," Jones said. 

"We are always looking for donations to reach our goals financially so we can build capacity and feed the families we have and families on waitlist," Cole said. "We are always looking for volunteers to do the groundwork. To make true change, it takes time and it takes a community effort."

Since it's the end of the year, the organization will also host food drives with local businesses. It's a way to collect healthy food items for the holidays.

If you'd like to volunteer, partner up, or learn more, click here

You can also reach out through info@fitandfoodconnection.org for more details.

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