What’s more remarkable is that Second Harvest Food Bank has been partnering with selected schools in three counties since 2006.
Our Hi-Five Kids Pack Program that provides kid-friendly, shelf stable packets of food for weekend consumption, celebrates its seventh birthday!
Since the program’s inception, Second Harvest Food Bank has helped schools distribute 178,092 Kids Packs; each containing enough food for three meals.
But sadly, this silver lining continues to be surrounded by a very dark cloud.
Florida’s participation in the free and reduced school lunch program has steadily increased from 45.3% in 2002, to 57.58% in 2011. (FLDOE)
This abstract figure translates into 1.5 million real children who rely on the program for adequate nutrition.
In our six-county Central Florida service area, more than 53% of the almost half million enrolled students qualify for government subsidized school meals.
In the wake of the great recession of 2008, homelessness among parents of students in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties has increased 79% since January 2009.
The estimated number of homeless school-age children in the three counties stands at 10,000. (Orlando Sentinel Kate Santich, Jan 6, 2012)
For these and many others, school lunch is their most substantial meal – sometimes their only meal.
Over the weekend, when school cafeterias are closed, Kids Packs ensure that needy children have something to eat. Yet, the demand is so much greater than our ability to provide.
Orange County alone – the nation’s 12th largest school district – has 69 schools exceeding free and reduced rates of 75%. An alarming 25 are at 100%. That translates into 35,334 extremely needy children! (FLDOE Survey 2)
That many children would completely fill the Amway Center; but only if you squeezed two per seat!
Generous financial support from our philanthropic partners has allowed us to reach over 30 schools since the program began. With 128 elementary schools in Orange County alone, it is clear that much more help is needed.
A touching story that renders statistics in human terms appears in our blog – Matthew & Jasmine
For a map of our 2012-13 Kids Pack Schools, click here
Childhood Hunger Programs Manager