For us at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida hunger isn’t about the numbers or even the food; it’s about the individual people struggling with hunger right here in our backyard. It’s about their stories and the people who step up and become a symbol of hope. Feed the Need Winter Park is that symbol of hope in our community.
As you consider becoming involved with this campaign I’d love to share with you an example of one of Second Harvest Food Bank’s feeding partners that is located right in Winter Park. Winter Park Day Nursery has been a staple in the community for the past 75 years. It provides a high quality of early childhood education to children ages 2-5 years old. The school serves 70 children at capacity and has such a wonderful reputation that the waiting list usually has a 6 month waiting period.
One of the special things about this school is their commitment to better the lives of not only their children but the entire families that are part of the school. About 75% of their families live at the poverty level. These families are considering the “working poor” with many of the parents working two jobs or attending school but still struggling to meet their family’s basic needs. Winter Park Day Nursery helps families fill out SNAP applications and offers a food pantry for these families. To stock their food pantry they partner with us at Second Harvest Food Bank who provides about 80% of the food. The families know that this pantry is available to help when they face the prospect of an empty cupboard. Recently Winter Park Day Nursery received a new refrigerator from Second Harvest Food Bank. They are now able to offer a wider range of food including perishable items for their families to take home. Many of the staff mentioned that the food in the pantry really improves the home lives of their children and the entire family.
During the week the children receive a breakfast, lunch, and two afternoon snacks at school. The school’s chef makes meals from scratch and tries to incorporate all different ingredients to expose the children to a well-balanced diet. Three of the daily meals for the children are funded through the Federal Food Program, but the last snack is provided through Second Harvest Food Bank. The school is able to provide this snack to the children free of charge so their families do not need to worry about providing any meals during the school day.
Winter Park Day Nursery not only focuses on feeding their children, but is also committed to educating their children on healthy eating. They have a garden at school that is planted by and tended to by the children. In the past they have grown eggplant, kale, and a variety of herbs. This produce is added to the food pantry at the school for the families to take home. The school really strives to make eating healthy fun for their children.
Winter Park Day Nursery is just one example of the wonderful organizations feeding people throughout Central Florida. Each day Second Harvest Food Bank partners with over 550 local emergency food assistance programs to get food to the people who need it the most. These feeding partners include emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, shelter programs, senior programs and more. By giving through Feed the Need Winter Park your support can be multiplied to help the hundreds of thousands of people struggling with hunger in your community.
Stewardship & Special Projects Manager