A nutritional step forward …

A Nutritional Step Forward ... Second Harvest Food Bank was among a group of nonprofits celebrating the introduction of nutritious suppers into area afterschool programs serving at-risk children. The event took place at The Denton Johnson Center, adjacent to the Eatonville Boys & Girls Club, one of our thirteen Kids Cafes.

Since 2002, when the Child Care Food Program was expanded to include afterschool centers, these sites have been limited to serving relatively small snacks.

With the rollout of the “supper program”, formally known as the Afterschool Meal Program (AMP), sponsors such as Second Harvest will be able to leverage increased federal funding by providing each child a full, nutritious 5 component meal every afternoon when school is in session.

Florida’s inclusion in AMP is a result of the Federal “Healthy Hunger-Free Act of 2010” which expanded the program nationwide. Prior to the act only 13 states were eligible.

The 110 children who visit our Kids Cafe every afternoon were treated to a large plate of spaghetti and meatballs, bread, fresh milk, green beans and fruit.

They were entertained by the Orlando Magic’s “Stuff” and the Florida Dairy Council’s “Sunnybell”.

As Stuff made his appearance, the children spontaneously burst into a chant of “Go Magic, Go!”

Magic Community Ambassador Bo Outlaw and approximately 30 others donned gloves to serve the seated children.

Second Harvest Food Bank has been seeking State approval to provide suppers since October 2012.

Thanks to a collaborative effort by The Florida Partnership to End Childhood Hunger, comprised of partners such as Florida Impact, Share our Strength, Taste of the Nation Orlando, City of Orlando Parks & Recreation, United Methodist Church, FRAC, The Florida Department of Health, and others, children at 20 sites across the community including our 13 Kids Cafes can look forward to full suppers in the very near future.

The enhanced nutritional value of these meals will undoubtedly contribute to the physical, academic and overall well-being of children in areas of high need. At a time when parents are struggling to make ends meet, full implementation of AMP and the funding to sustain it is a wise investment that will yield handsome dividends for decades to come.

As I watched the six foot eight Bo Outlaw leaning over to hand out milk cartons to the first group of elementary school children, I could not help but remember the words of a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln, “No man is so tall as when he stoops to help a child.”

photos from the day:

Santos Maldonado
Childhood Hunger Programs Manager

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