Serving Children and Reaching Families strives to bridge families with the essential information and community resources necessary to surmount challenges affecting your children’s well-being and overall family stability.

Aunt bertha

Aunt Bertha is a national network of social care programs. Their goal is to make it easy for people to find social services in their communities. You can use the Aunt Bertha website to search for free or reduced cost services like medical care, food, job training, and more.

Polk, Hardee, Highlands Counties

Text: text your zip code to 898-211
Phone: 888-370-7188 or 2-1-1
Online resources
Online Chat: Visit the UWCF 211 page to begin the online chat

* supplemental food & nutrition programs
* clothing, shelter & housing options
* financial assistance
* emergency information & natural disaster relief
* health care services
* child, adolescent & adult mental health services
* addiction prevention & rehabilitation programs
* support groups for individuals with mental illnesses & special needs
* a safe, confidential path out of physical or emotional domestic abuse
* adult, child, family & elder services
* services for individuals with disabilities

Medicaid & Food Assistance (SNAP)

Free Food Pantries + Food Resources

Polk County Community Care Centers

Mobile Food Pantries
The United Way of Central Florida’s George W. Jenkins End Hunger Initiative, as well as Feeding Tampa Bay, have weekly Mobile Food Pantry stops across Polk County. If you are in need of food, visit a food pantry location on the set day and time to pick up a pre-packaged box or bag of groceries, free of charge. They do not require ID, papers, or pre-screening to obtain free food at a Mobile Pantry. Click here to see a list of upcoming mobile food pantry stops in our area.

These local non-profits exist to help create stable and self-sufficient households in our community. Eligibility for services varies by location, check directly with the organization for more information.

Salvation Army
The Salvation Army helps those struggling to make ends to move them back toward self-sufficiency. They provide a variety of traditional social services and emergency assistance programs including food, shelter, clothing, housing, rent and utility assistance, youth services, and much more.
Salvation Army of Lakeland and West Polk + Lakeland Community of Hope
Salvation Army of Winter Haven and East Polk

Talbot House
Talbot House provides emergency shelter, healthcare, and food assistance to the homeless in our community.

Lighthouse Ministries
Lighthouse Ministries services include residential programs, feeding and sheltering the homeless, and outreach centers within their thrift stores to assist low-income and at-risk families in West Central Florida.

The Mission of Winter Haven
The Mission of Winter Haven provides homeless services, a food pantry, community feedings, showers, clothing, hygiene, enrichment classes, training, counseling, prayer and other support services.

Women’s Resource Center
Operating for over 33 years, The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) assists families in crisis throughout Polk County. They provide a variety of services including:
Independence Program (mentoring, financial literacy, job coaching)
Free Family Counseling and Mental Health Counseling
Emergency Utility Assistance
Housing Assistance (Homeless Prevention, Rapid Rehousing)
Food Pantry

Mulberry Community Service Center
The Mulberry Community Service Center is a non-profit organization working to create financially stable households. They provide food and clothing distribution, bill payment assistance, and financial education resources to residents of Mulberry, Nichols, Pine Lake, Willow Oaks, Fuller Heights, Imperial Lakes, Bradley and southeast Lakeland (ZIP Code 33813). If you live in one of these areas, contact the Mulberry Community Service Center at 863-425-1523 to learn how to apply for assistance.

Bartow Church Service Center
The Bartow Church Service Center provides emergency services year-round for those in Bartow and the Bartow school district. They attempt to meet the emergency needs of individuals on a temporary basis with food, clothing, meals, household items, gas, utilities, rent, transportation vouchers, housing, financial education services and much more. They also distribute food at Thanksgiving and toys at Christmas. If you live in the Bartow area, contact the Bartow Church Service Center at (863) 533-5822 to learn how to apply for assistance.

Frostproof Care Center
The Frostproof Care Center is in its twenty-sixth year of service to disadvantaged people in the rural southeastern corner of Polk County, Florida, including Frostproof and Babson Park. The Care Center helps individuals and families by meeting immediate and urgent physical needs caused by sudden trauma, disaster or economic instability and providing transitional services, education and mentoring to help them “get back on their feet.” They also distribute food at Thanksgiving and toys at Christmas. If you live in the Frostproof area, contact the Frostproof Care Center at 863-635-5555 to learn how to apply for assistance.

HELP of Fort Meade
HELP of Ft. Meade is helping to empower local residents by combating hunger, homelessness, joblessness, and illiteracy in the Fort Meade area. HELP provides assistance with mortgages, rent, food, utilities, a thrift store, and more. If you live in the Fort Meade area, contact HELP of Fort Meade at 863-285-6600 to learn how to apply for assistance.

Lake Wales Care Center
If you live in Lake Wales or a nearby community, the Lake Wales Care Center provides year-round assistance as well as holiday help to hundreds of families during the holiday season through the annual food drive and holiday meals, Christmas gifts that are provided to children, and more. Contact the Lake Wales Care Center’s Main Office at 863-676-6678 to schedule an appointment with a case manager.

Catholic Charities of Central Florida
Catholic Charities provides a variety of services to our community including food distribution, family stability, immigration legal services, senior programs, and more. Learn more about Catholic Charities of Polk County.

Do you need rental assistance in Polk County FL? Are you homeless or in danger of being homeless? The Homeless Coalition of Polk County may be able to help. Call (863) 687 – 8386 to speak with someone or leave a brief message with your contact information and the nature of your call. Your call will be returned in the order it was received. You can also learn more on their website.

Temporary assistance is available from other organizations for qualified individuals. For additional details, please call 211 to learn the latest about additional mortgage or rent assistance available in Polk County.

Florida KidCare: Free + Low-Cost Dental and Health Insurance for Kids
Florida KidCare programs provide affordable, quality dental and health insurance for children from birth through age 18. More than 174,000 children in Florida are currently eligible for low-cost or completely free insurance. Learn more about Florida KidCare.

Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine
Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine (LVIM) is a volunteer-run health care center that provides free high-quality medical care to the working uninsured of Polk County. LVIM exists to fill the gap in healthcare coverage for those who are working and uninsured – patients typically do not qualify for government assistance, but cannot afford the price tag of high cost health insurance premiums. LVIM provides primary care, prescriptions, vision care, dental care, and mental health. Learn more and see if you are eligible on the LVIM website.

Polk County Department of Health
The Polk County Department of Health provides a variety of free clinical health and nutrition services to families in Polk County including dental care, family planning, pregnancy care, and adult health care.
Uninsured adults may be eligible to receive services for free under the Polk County Indigent Health Care program. This program provides no-cost primary medical and dental care to uninsured Polk County residents who meet certain income requirements. Contact the Florida Department of Health in Polk County at 863-519-7910 for more information.

Central Florida Health Care
Central Florida Health Care is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving the Polk, Highlands, and Hardee communities. Their 14 community health care centers include adult and pediatric primary care, dental care, behavioral health, OB/GYN, lab, X-ray, pharmacy, and optometry services. CFHC serve all who seek care regardless of ability to pay. No individual or family is turned away or denied medical care because of income. All patients are charged based on their verified ability to pay using a sliding fee scale based on income. Visit the Central Florida Health Care website to find a location near you.

Volunteers in Service to the Elderly (VISTE) is a community-based, non-profit organization serving Lakeland, Bartow, Mulberry and Ft. Meade. The primary goal of VISTE is to enable frail elderly persons to continue living independently and safely in their own home, VISTE provides transportation, supplemental groceries, hot meals, and more.


Call or text your zip code to 898-211 or
* Local Food Banks And Nutrition Programs
* Emergency Housing Assistance
* Disaster Relief
* Employment And Education Opportunities
* Veteran Services
* Parent Resources
* Health Care Information

Florida Department of Children & Families

Homeless Services Network of Central Florida
Call 2-1-1 for a phone assessment or visit one of these hub locations:

** Orange County HUB (ideal for families):
United Against Poverty (UP Center)
150 West Michigan Street, Orlando, FL
Fridays 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm

** Seminole County HUB
Northland Church (Care Center in The Rink)
522 Dog Track Road, Longwood, FL
Mondays 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm

** Osceola County HUB:
Goodwill Job Center Kissimmee
1356 E. Vine Street
Kissimmee, Florida, 34744
Tuesdays 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.”

– George Washington Carver
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