Archive for the 'Stories of Hope and Courage' Category

October 18, 2017

How Do You Measure a Year?

Author: Erika Spence

The rock musical Rent asks, “How do you measure a year?” One year after graduating from Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida’s Culinary Training Program, Susan Anderson measures her year in three words: Courage. Discipline. Confidence.

Anderson originally applied to the inaugural Culinary Training Program class in 2013, but delayed entry because she wasn’t ready. She hesitated to take such a big leap and change careers. Her wages stagnated, she lost her car, and then her home. She reapplied with the hope of a new beginning for her family.

“I was working in retail management and food service but my career was stalled,” recalls Anderson. “Completing this program gave me the courage to step outside my comfort zone and see the opportunities for better wages and marketable skills.” Read More …

April 19, 2017

Our Kids Cafe Story

Author: Santos Maldonado

Our organization quickly embraced America’s Second Harvest’s (what is now Feeding America) Kids Cafe Program soon after it was conceived in 1993. Since then, over 60 different locations in four counties have benefited from this prepared meal program.

  • Since 1993, over 2.2 million meals have been served.
  • 33% of those in the last 3 years.
  • From inception to 2015, prepared meals were purchased from an external vendor.
  • In October of 2015, our production kitchen began delivering cold meals.
  • In February of 2016, we partnered with Orange County Parks & Recreation to provide meals to their 12 after school centers!
  • In August of 2016, our kitchen began serving hot meals.
  • Last December, we opened up our first Kids Cafe in Brevard County.
  • Just last month, we opened up our second Brevard Kids Cafe.
  • Today, we serve over 1,400 kids each day at 27 different locations in 4 counties.View a Map of current sites.

Read More …

July 21, 2016

Air Puddin’

Author: Sasha Hausman

An elderly woman at his homeA few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit one of our partner feeding programs, The Woodbury Pantry. This incredible agency distributes 10,000 pounds of food that they pick up from Second Harvest Food Bank every Monday. That day, I had the pleasure of meeting a vibrant 73 year old woman named Cordie.

I noticed her right away. She walked slow and steady with a walker but had a big smile on her face and bright blue eyes. As she walked up to receive her number to receive food she stopped and said hello to every person she passed. Everyone knew Cordie, and I knew I wanted to know her too.

I sat down with her and we began talking. She told me that she was there to pick up food for her family of 4. Her and her three great grandkids ages 14, 11, and 8. She says that the kids keep her young but it is a struggle to make ends meet on her limited and fixed income. Her husband died over a year ago so it is just her and the little ones now. Cordie doesn’t just come to Woodbury for the food, but for companionship too. This community has helped her through many trying times.

I asked Cordie if she ever had to skip any meals in order to feed her great grandchildren. She then asked me “You ever have air puddin”? Read More …

November 20, 2015

Hope Restored

Author: Dave Krepcho

UCF 2015 blogThere’s a lot of incredibly negative news lately in our country and around the world. Divisiveness, verbal and physical attacks, wars with words and wars with bombs. We can easily get swept up into a feeling of despair and a loss of hope. Then there are experiences that feed the soul, I was fortunate to have one of those recently.

I had the privilege and opportunity to speak at UCF’s 22nd Annual Hunger Banquet that their Student Involvement Office organizes. As I made my way through the maze of buildings on the UCF campus I found my destination; the Student Union Building, at the very heart of the campus. I found it fascinating that in the main floor of that building is a giant food court offering a variety of different types of food….and this is where the “Hunger Banquet” is taking place. It was another reminder that food is typically at the center of things and is powerful in terms of drawing people together, whether it’s at school, home or at the office.

The room was filled with 200 – 250 students who are deeply interested in making the world a better place. Wow, talk about a good vibe. The group was split into three groups for dinner. Read More …

November 19, 2015

A Second Harvest Moment

Author: Stephen Currence

Stephen Currence Agency Relations CoordinatorFrom time to time, staff from the Second Harvest Food Bank’s agency relations department like to drop in on our partner feeding programs to understand the logistics of their distribution and also to interact first hand with our clients. Recently, I stopped by a local pantry run by a primarily Hispanic church called L’englise Evangillique.

I arrived a half hour before the distribution was due to start. As I walked across the street to the white painted building on the side of the church, which is the location of the pantry, I was spotted by an older woman in her late sixties holding an empty cardboard box. Although cheerful, it was obvious she had seen the more difficult side of life. She said hello, smiled at me, and told me where the line was. I told her thank you but that I was with Second Harvest and that I was just here to check in and see how things were going.

She looked at me. In her broken English, she said “You. You from Second Harvest?”

“Yes” I said.

I was unprepared for her reaction. She grabbed my arm tightly, lifted her head, and closed her eyes. Tears came down her face and she was unable to speak for a few moments.

“You” She said.  “You are my angel!” Brushing away her tears she said, “My husband left me. My kids are grown and all live in Cuba. I had nothing. Because of you I have food!” She stated she worked as much as she could but still didn’t have money for food. She pointed to a lady close by and said she had just found a place to live with her. She motioned this person came over. “He is my angel!” she shouted, pointing to me. When it was time to leave, I thanked her and she gave me a huge hug that lasted for ages. I left terribly grateful for that experience.

This obviously had nothing to do with me and everything to do with all of the amazing folks at Second Harvest as well in our Partner Agencies. Everyone who doesn’t get to see clients first hand need to know she was talking directly to them as well.

In my short time here, I’ve learned there is so much need. There is vast hunger insecurity in the poor and working poor. And we do an amazing job in servicing this need. But I learned we do so much more. We had given more than food. We had restored hope. We had restored a sense of dignity. We had given someone in a difficult space peace of mind.

What an amazing place to work.

 

Stephen Currence
Agency Relations Coordinator

July 10, 2015

Story of Hope and Courage: Meet Chelle

Author: Melissa Kear

Story of Hope and Courage - Meet ChelleFor years Chelle stocked a miniature food shelf in her garage. She and her husband ran a daycare for low-income families. About three times a week someone would ask them for help. She led them to her garage and said take whatever you need. They had more than enough.

Then the economy crashed. Their daycare attendance dropped from 12 kids to 5, and their income from $4000 a month to less than $1000. In a matter of months, they were destitute.

One day Chelle opened up the fridge and it was empty. She really didn’t want to apply for food stamps, but she couldn’t let her little girl go hungry – even if it meant swallowing her pride. Chelle and her husband are hard workers, working usually 60 hours a week each just to barely keep their heads above water, but it still wasn’t enough. They needed help. “It is hard, but I am grateful to have food stamps. It’s nice to know my daughter is taken care even when we can’t fully provide for her on our own,” Chelle says.

Chelle continues to say that education is the only way she can think of to pull her family up out of poverty. Right now she am enrolled in graduate school full time – on top of operating the daycare. It’s her dream that when she graduates, Chelle and her family can be self-sufficient again. Not only that, but that they can give back again as well. Read More …